Global Health Consortium facilitates discussions on drug-resistant diseases

FIU’s Global Health Consortium (GHC) hosted international public health leaders from Latin America and the Caribbean last month to address the issue of drug-resistant diseases.

The emergence and spread worldwide of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is making antibiotics, antifungals and similar drugs (known collectively as antimicrobial agents) less effective. AMR occurs when the infectious organisms that are meant to be killed adapt to the antimicrobials, making themselves resistant to the drugs’ effects.

The meeting was co-hosted by the Pan American Health Organization and the World Health Organization and held in FIU’s D.C. offices. Representatives from Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Venezuela, El Salvador and other Latin American and Caribbean nations attended the gathering, which was a follow-up to a session held in April at the Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work.

The focus of both meetings was to develop recommendations for implementing antimicrobial stewardship programs (ASPs) in Latin America and the Caribbean.

“There are only three countries in Latin America that have national plans combating antimicrobial resistance,” says GHC Director Carlos Espinal, M.D. “These efforts will improve planning endeavors for active implementation of those programs in the region and the Americas all together.”

AMR is a significant global public health issue which results in longer illnesses and hospitalization stays, increased costs and death. While the true global impact of AMR is not known because national data is not available from many countries, it is a continuing problem in the United States. Each year, approximately 2 million people in this country acquire serious infections from microbes that are resistant to at least one antimicrobial. Approximately 23,000 people die annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For countries around the world – particularly those that are economically vulnerable – AMR poses critical health implications. Participants consider combating antibiotic-resistant infection a global responsibility.

“There is an urgent need to implement and strengthen ASPs in Latin America and the Caribbean regions,” says Anthoni Llau, GHC research scientist. “This meeting helped produce recommendations to assist national authorities and decision makers on implementing ASPs and developed a guide for hospital administrators and health care workers involved in their creation, potential barriers and challenges, and how to overcome them.”

In April 2018, GHC will host its eighth international conference on global health in Miami. The theme is building global health alliances. Sessions will focus on emerging vector-borne diseases, antimicrobial resistance, lead and mercury poisoning, and vaccine-preventable diseases. For more information, visit ghc.fiu.edu.

-Reporting contributed by Anthoni Llau


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