Professor Dr Htay Htay Tin
Dialogue titled “World Antibiotics Awareness Week”
- By Win Mi Mi Phyo
PHOTO: Hla Moe
World Antibiotics Awareness Week falls between 12 to 18 November this year. Myanma Radio and Television presents the dialogue under the title “World Antibiotics Awareness Week – WAAW” in which Deputy Director-General Professor Dr Htay Htay Tin of National Health Laboratory, Professor (Medicine) of University of Medicine – 1 Professor Dr Zaw Than Tun, Director Dr Min Thein Maw of Livestock Breeding and Veterinary Department and Country Representative Dr Stephan Paul Jost of World Health Organization are participating.
Facilitator: Some have knowledge that there is antibiotics resistance. What is antibiotic resistance?
Professor Dr Htay Htay Tin: In 1928, a researcher named Alexander Fleming postulated the antibiotics and he named it penicillin. Antibiotics are drugs that fight infections caused by bacteria in both humans and animals and plants. Since the finding of penicillin, it has been widely used and thus it is now 90 years using the drug. Fifty years ago, we came to know that taking antibiotic drugs could completely cure diseases but at the same time antibiotic-resistant strains are beginning to emerge. Therefore, WHO, World Veterinary Association and FAO have addressed the problem as global threat. Myanmar as a developing country has also been encountering such problem. This dialogue is aimed at cooperating among us to address the antibiotic resistance.
The antibiotic resistance can affect human being, then go on to infect animals, and further more to plant and human being again. A carrier of antibiotic resistant bacteria defecates and this infects animals and plants, and eating them, the bacteria again infects human being. As antibiotic resistance is related to all, it is addressed as most global threat.
Facilitator: Why are bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics? In which situation can it occur?
Professor Dr Zaw Than Tun: Antibiotic Resistance is very interesting. 90 years since discovery of penicillin, bacteria have been killed by giving penicillin. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria develop the ability to defeat the drugs designed to kill them. When bacteria become resistant, antibiotics cannot fight them, and the bacteria multiply. Bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics through several ways. Some bacteria can “neutralize” an antibiotic by changing it in a way that makes it harmless. Others have learned how to pump an antibiotic back outside of the bacteria before it can do any harm. A patient who is just catching cold does not need to take antibiotics. Overuse and misuse of antibiotics allows the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Every time a person takes antibiotics, sensitive bacteria (bacteria that antibiotics can still attack) are killed, but resistant bacteria are left to grow and multiply. Another fact is that a physician put the patient on antibiotics for a week of daily dosing. But the patient takes the medicines just three days, then the problem started. Again, the daily dosing is just for a week, but put the patient on antibiotics for three weeks is overdosing. Bacteria can change their outer structure so the antibiotic has no way to attach to the bacteria it is designed to kill. This is how repeated use of antibiotics can increase the number of drug-resistant bacteria.
Facilitator: Sir, please explain antibiotic resistance in bacteria associated with animals.
Dr Min Thein Maw: Antibiotics are used for growth enhancement and, in some cases, reduction in foodborne pathogens. The use of antibiotics in animal production has demonstrated benefits, including improved animal health and higher production but some uses are not needed. To use antibiotics just for growth enhancement with the aim of sending the meats to the market before it is ready to eat is dangerous because antibiotic resistance can affect human through these meats. The spread of animal excrements to nearby residential area may affect people living there. Therefore, setting up a livestock breeding farm should follow the rules such as making sure that it is run under sound biosecurity. This is crucial for controlling the threat of antibiotic resistance.
Facilitator: Ethics of food producers are very important regarding antibiotic resistance. As you said, it is precious to know that the not-ready-to-eat food infected with antibiotic resistant bacteria can harm people. Please explain antibiotic resistance in disease control.
Professor Dr Zaw Than Tun: To ensure less antibiotic resistance, the antibiotics exposed to bacteria must be less. Patients with too many bacteria is admitted to the Intensive Care Unit and in such case, the antibiotics have to be put on. In such surroundings, there are many chance to multiply antibiotic resistance. Therefore, awareness should be raised on antibiotic resistance and personal hygiene.
Facilitator: To what level the antibiotic resistance is posing danger to Myanmar?
Professor Dr Htay Htay Tin: The social economic cost spent to cure the patient with antibiotic resistance is too much for the country. It will take more time to cure and some patients cannot resist the disease. Ordinary flu can be cured but antibiotic resistance patient cannot be cured normally. He has to take expensive medicines. May be it may cure his disease but his gene will be resistant. Therefore it will be an endless circle.
Antibiotic resistance is not just related to this patient only. The country loses human resource. The spread of it cannot be estimated. Therefore infection control is of utmost importance for the surroundings and family.
Facilitator: Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health. What is the current situation worldwide?
Dr Stephan Paul Jost: Thank you very much for the crucial question. Antibiotic resistance can affect any country, big or small, rich or poor. It can also affect the hospitals, as said by Professor Dr Htay Htay Tin.
There are now in the world, diseases infected from the hospital has emerged. It broke out not only in the hospitals but also in other places. Misuse of antibiotics is the main culprit. It also reduces our capacity to provide public healthcare services. Multi Drug Resistance TB is the consequence of antibiotic resistance. It is difficult to cure such TB. Therefore, it is important to control the misuse of antibiotics.
Only through taking antibiotics systematically can preserve our healing capacity. Antibiotics should be taken only if it is necessary and it must be taken to the full course. The simple way of not to be infectious such as hand washing with soaps should be applied.
This book published by the Ministry of Health and Sports with the support of WHO is very much supportive. It describes preventive measures against antibiotic resistance. For example, ways and means that can be taken by nurses, dentists, pharmacologists, and midwives are described in this book. Not only in the World Antibiotics Awareness Week but also our daily routines, we can apply these methods. This will help prevent people from antibiotic resistance and other infectious diseases.
(To be continued)
(Translated by Wallace)