Aminat Isah, Abuja
The World Health Organisation has disclosed that Antimicrobial Resistance (ARM) by humans globally, could cause up to 10 million deaths annually by 2050 if left unchecked.
WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, disclosed this at a media round table with newsmen in Abuja to mark the World Antibiotic Awareness Week, marked between 18–24 November 2019.
With the 2019 theme: “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” Moeti noted that the effects of AMR in humans cannot be over looked.
“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, gonorrhea 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,”
He further explained that people living in developing countries and those in fragile contexts, affected by conflict and violence, are particularly vulnerable to AMR as high resistance to common pathogens such as 98% fluoroquinolone-resistant Escherichia coli, meaning there are limited treatment options for people that get this infection.
Some key challenges encountered in combating AMR according to Moeti 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.
He noted that WHO and partners are working with countries to address the challenges in combating ARM 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,”
He urge Health workers to always follow infection prevention and control practices, and only prescribe and dispense antibiotics when they are truly needed, while the private sector can invest in research and development of new antibiotics.
He also call on Governments to adequately resource national action plans, promote AMR governance, facilitate multi-sectoral collaboration, and increase access to clean water and sanitation, while patients should only use antibiotics prescribed by a certified health professional.
“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.
“Together, we need to accelerate action to reduce the increasing prevalence of drug-resistant infections. Misuse of antibiotics puts us all at risk. So today, I urge everyone to do more to handle antibiotics with care,” said Moeti
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