THE CABINET has approved a national strategy to fight anti-microbial resistance (AMR), as statistics show that some 38,000 patients in Thailand are killed by drug-resistant superbugs every year.
Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha wants the number of patients infected with superbugs to decrease 50 per cent in the next five years by implementing the national strategy and ordering the expansion of traditional Thai medicine nationwide to provide an alternative health service.
Government Spokesman Maj-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd revealed yesterday that the national strategy to suppress AMR would run from 2017 to 2021. He said the strategy was presented by the Public Health Ministry, with the Cabinet resolving last Wednesday to enhance the efforts of all stakeholders in this fight in a bid to relieve the problem.
Sansern described the issue as a major problem “both socially and economically for society”.
He said the major cause for ordinary bacteria that could be easily treated evolving into superbugs was because 90 per cent of people used antibiotics improperly – and antibiotics were purchased easily from every pharmacy without a prescription.
Many people take antibiotics frequently without being advised by a doctor, he added.
The limited types of antibiotics was also a problem, he said, as there were not enough new antibiotics to cure new strains of bacteria. Intensive use of antibiotics on livestock and in farming was another factor in causing bacteria to become drug resistant.
‘We need action plans’
“PM Prayut has ordered the Public Health Ministry to formulate an action plan for every agency in order to drive the national strategy together to educate people on how to use antibiotics properly, creating a system to control antibiotics use for all sectors and supporting research to find solutions to deal with superbugs,” the government spokesman said.
“The PM set an objective that by 2021 the AMR sickness must be reduced by 50 per cent and the public made aware of drug resistance and that proper use of antibiotics must be increase by 20 per cent.”
Sansern said the PM wanted more people to use Thai medicine for treatment and ordered the Public Health Ministry to expand the traditional Thai medicine service nationwide.
“Currently, there are 27 medical institutes that teach Thai medicine and produce around 1,000 new graduates in this field per year,” he said. “They can diagnose patients and issue prescriptions the same as normal doctors.
“Moreover, Thai medicine is already registered on the national list of essential medicines, so everyone can be sure that Thai medicine is safe and efficient like Western medicine.”