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Dr Josselin Blanco wins ‘Belize is Antimicrobial Aware!’ Video/Poster Competition for One Health personnel

Posted: Friday, January 27, 2023. 9:57 am CST.

Photo Credit: PAHO

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: Dr Josselin Blanco from the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital won the ‘Belize is Antimicrobial Aware!’ Video/Poster Competition promoted by Belize’s One Health Committee in partnership with PAHO/WHO and the funding support from the United States Government, according to a press release by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

PAHO said the competition for one health personnel served as an educational campaign for people to be more responsible in using antimicrobials.

“We gotta celebrate each and every win. Especially if those wins are for the education of the population we live in,” Dr Blanco said in a social media post.

The three winning entries for the One Health Category were Poster submissions.

Second place was captured by Dr. Laura Freisen and Ms. Felicia Freisen and third place by Maria de la Luz Vasquez.

The video/poster competition was a 2-in-1 contest, Rheema Emmanuel won the Tertiary-level Category.

PAHO said the two first-place winners received prizes for their placement and other participants were given participatory packages for their excellent submissions and understanding of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

The One Health Committee and PAHO held the competition to create awareness of AMR which is a global public health threat to humans, animals, plants, and the environment.

“AMR occurs when microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites change when they are exposed to antimicrobial drugs developing antimicrobial resistance,” said the PAHO statement.

“Antibiotics and other antimicrobials have contributed to the health and wellbeing of humans and animals, but these gains are being lost over recent decades, through their inappropriate use (overuse and misuse) leading antimicrobial resistance resulting in reduced efficacy and threatening the effective treatment of an ever-increasing range of infections, resulting in prolonged illness and increased morbidity and mortality,” said Dr. Noreen Jack, PAHO/WHO Representative in Belize.

“Considering the significant impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on AMR to date and the recently approved Regional policy on ‘One Health: A Comprehensive Approach,’ we need to continue to advocate for the prioritization and sustainability of these AMR response actions,” said Dr. Jorge Polanco, Director of Hospital Services and Allied Health of the Ministry of Health and Wellness. “It is necessary to consolidate these efforts initiated through this ONE Health approach.”

Dr Jack said that in 2019, at least 1.27 million deaths were linked to AMR worldwide.

Antimicrobial awareness is nothing new.

In May 2015, a global action plan to tackle AMR was endorsed at the World Health Assembly, supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), in May 2915 endorsed a worldwide plan of action to tackle AMR. Every year PAHO makes a call for global collaboration to preserve the efficacy of these critical medicines.

“The COVID-19 pandemic forced us to learn so much about the health risks posed by microbial diseases, not only doctors but all of us,” said Mr. Mark Perry, Acting Deputy Chief of Mission of the United States Embassy.

“The U.S. Embassy is grateful for this opportunity today to honor the hard work that health workers in Belize have been doing to keep us all safer. That includes the students, through this competition, as partners with the health professionals, helping to raise awareness, especially of the danger of misuse of antimicrobials.”

The One Health Committee of Belize (comprised of the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MoHW), the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security, and Enterprises, the Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA), and the National Meteorological Service) and PAHO/WHO said they continue working with key partners like the United States Government in addressing the global health threat posed by AMR.


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