Efforts to cut inappropriate use of antibiotics

We thank Mr Colin Ong Tau Shien for his feedback on the need to reduce reliance on antibiotics ("Cut reliance on antibiotics"; last Thursday).

We agree that it is important for antimicrobial drugs, including antibiotics, to be used appropriately and be prescribed only when necessary.

Injudicious use of antibiotics is associated with the increased risk of developing antimicrobial-resistant infections. These infections are difficult to treat and may be associated with worse clinical outcomes.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) has been working closely with hospitals to reduce the spread of antimicrobial resistance.

In 2009, the MOH set up the National Antimicrobial Taskforce (NAT), consisting of infectious disease physicians, microbiologists and pharmacists, to formulate and implement measures to monitor the use of antimicrobial drugs, as well as antimicrobial-resistant infection rates.

The NAT was also tasked with recommending measures to prevent and limit the incidence of such infections.

The NAT was reorganised into the National Antimicrobial Resistance Control Committee (NARCC) in 2014.

Over the past few years, the NARCC has strengthened key antimicrobial efforts in our hospitals.

These include the development of antimicrobial stewardship programmes for public hospitals, and expanding surveillance data monitoring of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The MOH has worked with the National Infection Prevention and Control Committee to develop infection control guidelines for healthcare institutions, as well as guidelines for the control and prevention of multi-drug resistant infections in healthcare facilities.

The MOH will continue to work with healthcare institutions, healthcare professionals and the public to reduce the inappropriate use of antibiotics.

Lim Bee Khim (Ms)

Director

Corporate Communications

Ministry of Health

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 12, 2016, with the headline 'Efforts to cut inappropriate use of antibiotics'. Print Edition | Subscribe