‘We are what we eat,’ warns drug official

Barbadians were last night warned to watch what they eat, amid concern about a growing resistance in humans to antibiotics.

Director of Barbados Drug Service Maryam Hinds said even though the necessary controls and regulations were in place here to deal with prescription drugs, consumers needed to be cognisant that antibiotics were also administered locally to animals, often with less supervision than humans.

“We are what we eat,” said Hinds, while urging Barbadians to pay particular attention when consuming veterinary produce that has been fed antibiotics.

Delivering welcome remarks at a lecture on antibiotics resistance at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, she explained that animals were often given antibiotics “either to stave away illness, or  . . .  to treat illnesses, and sometimes even to make them [animals] grow faster”.

The lecture was delivered by Dr Corey Forde who also explained that since the introduction of the first antibiotic – penicillin – in 1941, several new versions of the drug have been brought onto the market owing to fact that the abuse and misuse of the disease-fighting drug have made illnesses resistant to treatment.

“Where antibiotics can be bought for human and animal use without a prescription, emergence and the spread of the resistance is made worse,” Hinds said.

She also warned that “without urgent action we are headed for a post-antibiotic era in which common infections and minor injuries can once again cause death”.

The drug official said due to the worldwide resistance to antibiotic treatment “a growing list of infections such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, blood poisoning, gonorrhea and other sexually transmitted diseases are becoming harder and sometimes impossible to treat”.

She said the situation also threatens the safety of persons undergoing operations that have become routine in modern medicine.

“Organ transplantation, chemotherapy, surgery such as cesarean sections, they become much more dangerous without effective antibiotics for the prevention and treatment of infections,” Hinds said.

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