The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned against the inappropriate and excessive use of antibiotics.
WHO Country Representative in Nigeria, Walter Mulombo, while speaking at a policy dialogue on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in Abuja on Monday, said antibiotics resistance is rising to dangerously high levels in all parts of the world.
Mr Mulombo said if no action is taken, the world is heading for a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries can once again kill.
“To put this in context, a future without effective antibiotics would mean that commonplace medical surgeries, such as hip replacements, cancer chemotherapy, organ transplants, and the treatment of pre-term babies would be far less safe.
“It is terrifying though predictions suggest that if we don’t radically change how antibiotics are used, antimicrobial resistance will kill more people by mid-century than other killer diseases of today,” he said.
The dialogue is to commemorate the World Antibiotics Awareness Week(WAAW) which runs from November 18 to 24, 2021.
Themed “AMR Response and Financing in Nigeria: Challenges and Opportunities,” the dialogue was organised to foster discussion on new opportunities to finance the AMR National Action Plan and evaluate One Health response to AMR and funding.
The theme of this year’s WAAW is “Spread Awareness, Stop Resistance.”
Antimicrobial resistance, also known as antibiotics resistance, occurs when microorganisms change in ways and render medication used to cure the infections they cause ineffective. This is the reason some people complain of persistent infection in spite of using the prescribed antibiotics.
AMR is now a global health emergency as it is mounting pressure on the already vulnerable health system, especially in Nigeria.
Participants at the Policy dialogue on anti microbial resistance (AMR) in Abuja on Monday
WHO estimates that resistant infections already cause at least 700,000 deaths every year, including 230,000 deaths from multi drug-resistant tuberculosis.
Also, by 2050, it is estimated that 10 million people will die annually from drug resistance infection, causing $100 trillion in economic losses if efforts are not drastically scaled up to curtail the misuse of antibiotics globally.
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The economic costs are set to increase exponentially through productivity losses, prolonged sickness, reduced labour efficiency, and higher hospital bills.
At the event, an official of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), Peter Umanah, called for more investment if Nigeria is to effectively tackle AMR.
Mr Umanah, the Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO)- Epidemiology, Department of Veterinary and Pest Control Service, FMARD, said adequate investment in the containment of AMR is considered to be a high-yield development with estimated returns far outweighing the costs.
He explained that proper assessment of the economic impact of AMR opens up new frontiers of investment opportunities that Nigeria needs to exploit.
“This underscores the need for continuous and deeper collaboration among all stakeholders to provide enough evidence to convince policy makers that investing in containment of antimicrobial resistance was considered to be a high-yield development investment with estimated returns far outweighing the costs,” he said.
Use of Data
In his opening remarks, Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Ifedayo Adetifa, said there is a need for systematic collection of data both at the health facility level and community level to monitor use of antibiotics in the country.
Mr Adetifa, who was represented by the director, Prevention Programmes and Knowledge Management, NCDC, Chinwe Ochu, said the kind of practices Nigeria operates is such that everybody has access to antibiotics.
He explained that there are some laid-down regulations but they are not properly implemented.
“We want to reduce non-evidence-based, no-guidance use of antimicrobial from antiparasitics, anti-malaria to antivirals, antibiotics, to antifungal. We want more sustainability testing to guide our use of antimicrobials.
“To achieve this, we need properly equipped laboratories that can make accurate diagnosis,” he said.
Mr Adetifa also suggested appropriate documentation of data, regular and systematic collection of data on the use of antimicrobial in individual health facilities.
“A good database will help in planning and also help in guiding the facility-based response which adds up to the national response,” he said.