‘Share love not antibiotics' – First Edition of Kiribati Antibiotic Guidelines launched
19 September 2013 - The Kiribati Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) recently launched the first Kiribati Antibiotic Guidelines as part of WHO’s promotion of rational use of medicines, which impacts access to essential medicines. In Kiribati, the most common used medicines are antibiotics, as such it is important to ensure antibiotics are prescribed appropriately; only when needed and in the correct dose. To explain the Guidelines and their significance, we spoke with Ms Ioana Taakau, Chief Pharmacist, MHMS, and Coordinator of the Guidelines development process:
Please tell us a bit about the Guidelines…
Standard treatment guidelines consist of systematically developed statements to help prescribers decide appropriate treatments for specific clinical conditions. National essential medicines lists are based on these guidelines and are used as a basis for procurement to ensure all essential medicines are available at health facilities.
Why are the Guidelines important?
Worldwide more than 50% of all medicines are prescribed, dispensed, or sold inappropriately, while 50% of patients fail to take them correctly. Irrational over-use of medicines can stimulate inappropriate patient demand, and lead to reduced access and attendance rates due to medicine stock-outs. Further, over-use of antimicrobials leads to increased antimicrobial resistance (AMR), which is fast becoming a public health threat. These evidence-based guidelines are important to promoting rational use of medicines.
How were the Guidelines developed? And how long did the process take?
It took our Therapeutics Committee about six months to have meetings and go through all the relevant topics. It then took another three months to compile the document and circulate it for comments from prescribers and Committee members. Then another three months to have it printed and ready for use.
How are these Guidelines different from/similar to Guidelines used in other countries?
The 1st edition of Kiribati Antibiotic Guidelines is very contextual, for example, Kiribati’s medical workforce have had different training, some in Cuba, others in Fiji or Australia. These guidelines provide standardized guidance to prescribers. The Guidelines also ensure the pharmacy department maintains adequate stock of all medicines included in the Guidelines. Otherwise it is much similar to similar guidelines in other Pacific Island Countries.
How will prescribers be made aware/trained to use these Guidelines?
The Ministry of Health launched the Guidelines in the hospital on 26 July 2013, now the Pharmacy will ensure prescribers have a copy. Further, prescribers will be encouraged to use these guidelines, and we will follow up with monitoring and evaluating for future revisions and updates.
The Guidelines launch represents a significant step forward by Kiribati to ensure medicines are prescribed appropriately. WHO’s Division of Pacific Technical Support has assisted the development of these guidelines and similar national guidelines in Cook Islands, Fiji, Palau, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu and will continue to provide support to the Pacific to promote rational medicine use and implement the guidelines. Nauru, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of Marshall Islands will be the next countries to develop Standard Treatment Guidelines.