-As St. Racheal’s Pharma commemorates World Antimicrobial Awareness Week 2020
To avert a colossal loss of lives to the tune of ten million by the year 2050 across the globe, with developing countries having higher prevalence of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), stakeholders have urged governments at all levels to step up its implementation of health policies in the country, while stiffer punishment are mete out to violators of established regulations.
The seasoned healthcare practitioners, who converged at the head office of St. Racheal’s Pharmaceuticals, in Lekki Penisula, Lagos, engaged in four hours conversation on the eradication of AMR include Commissioner for Health, Ogun State, Dr (Mrs) Tomi Coker; Chairman/CEO, St. Racheal’s Pharmaceuticals Pharm. Akinjide Adeosun; Consultant Medical Microbiologist, LASUTH, Dr Mutiu Bamidele; Pharm.(Mrs)Adeola Alli, co-founder/CEO OneHealth Pharmacy; Dr Olufunke Adeyeye; LASUCOM; and others.
They unanimously agreed that the prevalence of AMR is extremely high in Nigeria, while government and all stakeholders need to up their games in preventing the condition from degenerating into a crisis.
Some of the factors fueling AMR in the country as identified by the experts are poverty; use, misuse and overuse of antibiotics in humans, animals and plants; lack of access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene; inadequate infection prevention and control; non-implementation of healthcare policies; among others.
Speaking on the theme of the World Antimicrobial Awareness Week 2020, “United to preserve antimicrobials”, the Ogun State Commissioner for Health stressed the need for more awareness creation on the part of practitioners, noting that there is huge ignorance about antibiotics usage among the populace which explains reason for the high prevalence of AMR.
She also called on regulatory agencies like PCN and NAFDAC to be more thorough in their monitoring activities, as defaulters of regulations are to be severely punished, to serve as deterrent to others.
“We have a million and one policies and researchers have discovered that our policies in Nigeria are parts of the best policies worldwide, unfortunately, we are not implementing them. Locally there are policies that support the domestication of the global action plan such as the NCDC antimicrobial use and resistance in Nigeria published in September 2017. Concurrently, the Federal Ministry of Health, Agriculture and Environment published the situation analysis on antimicrobial use and resistant in Nigeria. So all these are out for us, but what are we doing with them?
“Pharmacists, microbiologists and doctors should commence advocacy visit to policy makers at the national and sub-national levels to challenge them on actions on existing AMR policy, because if we are not careful, this might become a crisis, maybe another pandemic, because if it is not controlled, it will get out of control”, she warned.
On his part, the St. Racheal’s boss, Pharm. Adeosun tasked government on alleviating poverty among the citizens saying about 40 per cent of the Nigerian people live below its poverty line, which is N137,430 a year, or N11,452 in a month or N381.75 per day, as cited from the National Bureau of Statistics report about poverty and inequality in Nigeria from September 2018 to October 2019.
Adeosun who stated that a full dose of his company’s brand of antibiotics goes for about N1000, argued that it is impossible for the man on the street who spends N381.75 per day on food and non-food items to afford the cost of a full dose antibiotics. He thus laid it bare why it is easier for majority of the poor to purchase substandard antibiotics at cheaper rates than to patronise quality medicines. He said if poverty is not addressed, it is doubtful, if AMR can be controlled in the country.
“I believe to tackle the problem of antibiotic resistance, we need to tackle poverty (The Patients) & Funding (The Healthcare Industry). A patient who spends N381.75 per day on Food & nonfood cannot afford to buy a full dose of an antibiotic worth N1, 000.00. I urge our national & subnational governments to institute free medical care for the poor people.1% of the profit of companies should be legislated to fund this scheme at the national level & 1% tax from contractors at the sub national government. For it to be sustainable, I call on governments to make provision for free medical care in the annual budget”, he submitted.
Earlier, the Consultant Microbiologist, Dr Bamidele had defined AMR as a condition that occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites resist the effects of medications, making common infections harder to treat and increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death.
Although he noted that multiple factors are responsible for the condition, but he mentioned a few of them which are overuse of medicines in humans, livestock, and agriculture, as well as poor access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene, adding that all these have accelerated the threat of antimicrobial resistance worldwide.
He explained further on the role of physician in antimicrobial stewardship, saying it involves the optimal selection, dose and duration of an antibiotic resulting in the cure or prevention of infection with minimal unintended consequences to the patient including emergence of resistance, adverse drug events, and cost. The ultimate goal is improved patient care and healthcare outcomes.