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Misuse of antibiotics trigger health woes

Published: 
Wednesday, March 14, 2018
Doctor: Some bacteria cannot be treated
Dr Adesh Sirjusingh

Babies develop a resistance to life-saving antibiotics from exposure to bacteria in hospital wards among other places, according to Director of Women’s Health Dr Adesh Sirjusingh.

His comments came days after pre-term baby Isaiah Ram died at the cramped Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of the San Fernando General Hospital, which his parents believe is contaminated with bacteria.

In an interview yesterday, Sirjusingh said that resistance to antibiotics is not a problem for babies alone but also for the elderly.

“This antibiotic-resistant bacteria are becoming more common especially since we are not developing any new antibiotics,” Sirjusingh said.

He said that antibiotic-resistant bacteria are not controlled or killed by antibiotics.

“They are able to survive and even multiply in the presence of an antibiotic. Most infection-causing bacteria can become resistant to at least some antibiotics,” he said.

Asked what was the cause of this, Sirjusingh said the World Health Organization stated that misuse of antibiotics can cause people to develop resistance to antibiotics.

Admitting that T&T’s national infant mortality rate could be improved, Sirjusingh said the rate stands at 12 per thousand live births.

Sirjusingh said this was because doctors do not practice termination of pregnancies, unlike other countries where the rate is lower.

“When we compare the infant mortality figure we are fairly similar to the better countries of the Caribbean like Barbados. We are better than most of Latin American countries and Cuba,” Sirjusingh said.

However, he said T&T is ranked as high income and compared to countries like Japan, the statistics could have been better when ranked on the global scale.

Sirjusingh, a specialist gynaecologist and obstetrician, said the Ministry of Health has been working towards bringing down the maternal morbidity rate.

“Our next project is to reduce infant mortality and this is what we are trying to do,” Sirjusingh said.

He noted that at the Port-of-Spain and San Fernando General Hospitals the infant mortality rate stands at six and seven per 1,000 live births. He said that the Southwest Regional Health Authority has 5,000 live births per year.

On Saturday, baby Isaiah died at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and his parents, Kurt and Nadie Ram, blamed the Ministry of Health for keeping the babies in a ward contaminated with bacteria.

The child was born on December 27, last year 14 weeks premature and had been kept at the hospital getting treatment since then.

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh commenting on the child’s death on Monday said “The underlying problem is babies are being born with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. We have taken immediate measures to rearrange the neonatal intensive care unit.”

On March 5, Randy Jaglal and his wife, Nazaran, complained that their brain-damaged son, Riley, also got a bacterial infection because of unsanitary ward conditions.

Deyalsingh said the matter is already being addressed and NICU will be relocated to a separate location where Wards 15 A and B is currently located. Director of Health Dr Albert Persaud said the existing NICU is being rearranged so there is ample spacing between cots.

Both parents are threatening to take legal action for negligence. Baby Isaiah will be laid to rest today at Belgrove’s Funeral Home.

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