Manager of Pharmacy Services takes her stewardship work internationally in hopes to slow the growth of antibiotic resistance

Andrea Kent, antimicrobial stewardship clinical coordinator and pharmacy manager at the Colchester East Hants Health Centre
Andrea Kent, antimicrobial stewardship clinical coordinator and pharmacy manager at the Colchester East Hants Health Centre

Did you know that 30 to 50 per cent of prescriptions for antibiotics may be inappropriate? For antimicrobial stewardship clinical coordinator Andrea Kent that statistic is the drive for her antimicrobial stewardship work.

In July of 2017, Kent, along with Dr. Paul Bonnar, started an Antimicrobial Stewardship program at Nova Scotia Health Authority. This program aims to slow the growth of antibiotic resistance by educating health care professionals about the proper use of antibiotics and the risks of over prescribing.

“Antimicrobial stewardship is a way to look after the current antibiotics that we have on the market,” said Kent, who is also the pharmacy manager at the Colchester East Hants Health Centre in Truro. “We can’t just say ‘oh well, we will have new antibiotics’ because we don’t have new antibiotics and we don’t know when we will have new ones.”

The misuse of antibiotics has helped to create bacteria or ‘super bugs’ that are resistant to antibiotics. 

This means that if someone becomes infected with that particular type of bacteria, it can take longer to be cured – or even result in death. 

“Because antibiotic resistance is a growing problem that is killing patients and causing longer hospital stays, it is actually costing our health care systems money,” said Kent. “The misuse of antibiotics has global implications.”

“We want to make sure patients get what they need in the right way and also make sure that patients who don’t need antibiotics don’t get them,” she added. 

Kent’s antimicrobial stewardship work has made its way across the globe.

In early 2018 Kent and Dr. Paul Bonnar were approached by the World Health Organization (WHO) to help develop a toolkit for low- to middle-income countries to start creating their own antimicrobial stewardship programs.

“In June of last year we went to Geneva for three days to work with people from 30 different countries to create the toolkit,” said Kent. “We all presented data and shared how we manage antibiotics differently; it was really interesting.” 

The toolkit includes guidance for policy makers, information on how to collect and use data, and tools to help hospitals and healthcare workers use antibiotics appropriately.

“It has been tested in a few countries and was officially launched on November 21 of this year,” said Kent. 

“We are creating a cultural change in our health care system that will save lives and help people use antibiotics in a safe way.”