BRIDGETOWN, Barbados— Inter-sectoral collaboration, commitment and action have been touted as crucial to strengthening regional diagnostic capacity to tackle Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) detection and surveillance in the Caribbean.
This is the objective of a Triangular Cooperation project between the government of Argentina, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). At the formal launch of the project at the Best-Dos Santos Laboratory in Barbados, on Friday, July 12, the speakers highlighted that AMR is a threat which has the potential to be more deadly than cancer and costs the world economy as much as US $100 trillion annually.
The ministry of health of Argentina, through its National Institute of Infectious Disease (Instituto Malbrán) and the National Food Safety and Quality Services (SENASA), are renowned for their work on AMR.
Gustavo Martinez Pandiani, ambassador of the Argentine Republic to Barbados and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) noted that his country has been collaborating with PAHO and the World Health Organization on this matter for more than 20 years.
“This South/South collaborative endeavor is in line with my country´s commitment to fostering stronger ties with the Caribbean, where we already have several cooperation projects in place on agriculture, food security, fish waste treatment, honey production, and many others. It is our hope that the AMR project contributes to improving pharmaceutical prescribing and changing consumer practices,” Ambassador Pandiani explained.
Representing member states, director-general of CARICOM secretariat’s office of trade negotiations, ambassador Gail Mathurin, expressed her deep appreciation to Argentina and PAHO and indicated that CARICOM was looking forward to continued collaboration on AMR and ways to continue to mobilise south-south cooperation in the health sector.
In offering his full support to the project and the work of the lab, Barbados’ minister of health and wellness, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bostic, applauded the partners for their willingness to share their expertise.
“AMR can be likened to a burning fuse connected to a bomb, waiting to explode. We have become so dependent on the availability as needed of effective antibiotics to cover everything from surgery, to childbirth, as well as animal husbandry and other food production, that with increasing AMR, we face a number of threats. These include the return to unsafe childbirth, increased illness and death in surgical procedures, re-emerging diseases, such as tuberculosis, threats to food security and food safety, as well as economic losses… and even developmental regression,” minister Bostic remarked.
Laboratory director at the Best-Dos Santos lab, Songee Beckles, placed on record her gratitude for the opportunity for her staff to benefit from the project. She reported that the lab had already scored “very well” in a proficiency test and would be playing a supporting analytical role when the project moves to the OECS islands.