By Tobias Lengnan Dapam

The World Health Organisation (WHO), has said that misuse of antibiotics is dangerous to health and puts all people at risk.

Speaking yesterday in Abuja to mark the World Antibiotic Awareness Week, WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti said antimicrobial resistance (AMR)

endangers health security and “our progress towards universal health coverage, by threatening to reverse medical advances of the twentieth century. It reduces our ability to treat diseases such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, gonorrhoea and cancer. AMR also threatens our ability to conduct surgeries and to care for premature babies.

“This silent pandemic is already leading to 700 000 deaths worldwide each year – left unchecked, AMR could cause up to 10 million deaths annually by 2050. People living in developing countries and those in fragile contexts, affected by conflict and violence, are particularly vulnerable.”

Moeti, who was represented by WHO Officer -in -Charge, Clement Peters said, “We are seeing high resistance to common pathogens such as 98% fluoroquinolone-resistant Escherichia coli, meaning there are limited treatment options for people that get this infection. Key challenges in combatting AMR include: weak regulatory systems facilitating proliferation of substandard and falsified medicines; limited implementation of standards for clean water, sanitation and hygiene, and to prevent and control infections; and a lack of reliable data.”

She said WHO and partners are working with countries to address these challenges by implementing “One Health” national action plans. “These plans bring together different sectors and disciplines to build stronger regulatory systems, to improve surveillance, and to develop policies to promote appropriate antibiotic use among humans, and in livestock and agriculture.

“In the African Region, nine of 47 countries now have functioning multisectoral working groups on AMR and 19 countries have enrolled in the Global AMR Surveillance System (GLASS). Twenty-four countries have legislation on the prescription and sale of antimicrobials for human use and six have national monitoring systems for consumption and rational use of antimicrobials in human health. Together, we need to accelerate action to reduce the increasing prevalence of drug-resistant infections.

“I urge everyone to do more to handle antibiotics with care. Governments can adequately resource national action plans, promote AMR governance, facilitate multisectoral collaboration, and increase access to clean water and sanitation.

Patients should only use antibiotics prescribed by a certified health professional.

Health workers should always follow infection prevention and control practices, and only prescribe and dispense antibiotics when they are truly needed.

The private sector can invest in research and development of new antibiotics.

The agricultural industry can reduce the use of antibiotics in livestock farming.

Working together, and taking a holistic approach to safeguarding antibiotics, will help to ensure that we can all look forward to a healthier future.”

She said this year’s theme is “handle antibiotics with care”, emphasizing the need to use antibiotics safely and responsibly across sectors, from agricultural and livestock production to public health, and to mitigate the impacts of antimicrobial pollution contaminating water and soil. 


Peoples Daily Correspondent


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