Head of the Microbiology Department, University of the West Indies (UWI), Dr. Alison Nicholson, says overuse and misuse of antibiotics is affecting their effectiveness in treating infections, resulting in a rapid emergence of resistant bacteria worldwide.
She noted that “bacteria have learned the secrets of how antibiotics work and are outsmarting them”.
“Some of them (bacteria) have very elaborate mechanisms while some are simple, so when you use an antibiotic and expect it to go into the organism, the bacteria have these sprouts that just push it back out. That tells you they are learning the tricks, so the more you take antibiotics unnecessarily, the more you expose them to the bugs that learn how to outsmart them,” Dr. Nicholson said.
She was speaking at a World Antibiotic Awareness Week Agriculture Day event at the Knox College Auditorium in Spalding, Clarendon, on Thursday (November 15).
Dr. Nicholson said that UWI has been monitoring antibiotic resistance locally for some time, and cautioned against the routine administration of the drugs to animals.
“There is compelling evidence showing that what happens in one sector affects another sector,” she said.
“We now know that the animal industry is a major player in the development of antibiotic resistance, so it is important to work together to push back against the microbes that have ganged up on us… in order to reverse this dangerous trend of antibiotic resistance,” Dr. Nicholson said.
Executive Director of the Bureau of Standards Jamaica, Stephen Wedderburn, who represented Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Audley Shaw, said the matter of antimicrobial resistance and the global response to this threat is of great importance to Jamaica.