A Consultant Clinical Microbiologist and Director, Lagos State Biobank., Dr Bamidele Mutiu, has demystified the widespread notion about antibiotics usage, saying they don’t cleanse blood neither do they wash body organs nor increase libido, as several people erroneously believe. He warned Nigerians to desist from abusing antimicrobials based on these reasons, as wrong usage without prescription could lead to worse health outcomes in patients.
The expert, who lectures at the Lagos State University College of Medicine (LASUCOM) LASUTH, Ikeja, also charged healthcare practitioners to stop prescribing antibiotics for patients at the slightest opportunity without due examination of their conditions, to ascertain whether antibiotics are necessary or not. To overcome the burden of antimicrobials resistance in the country, he asserted that practitioners must prioritise enlightenment of patients at every given opportunity against abuse of antibiotics, as this will go a long way in correcting the wrong notions in the society.
Speaking at a virtual media dialogue with experts and stakeholders, organised by St. Racheals Pharmaceuticals, in commemoration of World Antimicrobial Awareness Week 2021, Mutiu and other practitioners agreed that government, medical practitioners and the general public must make concerted effort to preserve the few antibiotics currently in the market to ensure their continued effectiveness, as no new ones are currently being introduced.
“Antibiotics will not wash your blood, in fact, it can’t wash any organ of your body, and neither can it improve your libido. So stop abusing antimicrobials based on these unfounded reasons for which people abuse the drugs” he cautioned.
The Lagos State Biobank boss also emphatically charged practitioners thus “Charity begins from home. Healthcare practitioners must reiterate it to patients every time they see them the dangers of abusing antibiotics and its implications on their health”.
In her presentation, Dr Esohe Ogboghodo, a public health physician and head, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) traced the causes of antibiotics resistance to factors which include unrestricted access by members of the public to antibiotics, which often result in abuse.
“Unrestricted access to antimicrobials over the counter from pharmacies, under-regulated patent medicine vendors and hawkers may be the biggest driver of resistance in Nigeria.
“These stores often sell drugs that are outside the list of medicines approved for them. In addition, there are also several itinerant drug sellers that go about hawking unapproved and often poor quality medicines to the public including antimicrobial agents.
“The ease of access and overuse of antimicrobials have resulted in an increasing resistance of bacteria to antibiotics, which is paradoxically leading to a loss of effectiveness.”
Ogboghodo, who is also chairman of UBTH’s Infection Prevention and Control disclosed that antibiotics are being over-prescribed by health workers, sometimes as a result of patient’s demand, while they are also being over-used by the public.
“Poor adherence to antibiotics prescription by individuals has also been implicated. Factors contributing to poor adherence to antimicrobial treatment include financial incapability to purchase full dose, long duration of treatment and side effects experienced.
“Furthermore, the unfinished doses of antimicrobials are usually kept for future use, or given to other persons with similar complaints,” she further said.
In his contribution, the Managing Director of St. Racheal’s Pharmaceuticals, Pharm. Akinjide Adeosun, traced the problem of antibiotics resistance in Nigeria to the country’s high out-of-pocket healthcare expenditure.
According to him, the pressure on patients to pay often leads to sub-optimal purchase of antimicrobial doses thereby encouraging microbials to be resistant to available drugs.
“I hereby state my unequivocal support to the House of Representatives’ bill championed by Hon. Bello Kaoje to make Children’s healthcare services free. This will revolutionized care for Children in Nigeria. This bill has passed the second reading and must be supported by everyone.
“If parents don’t have to worry about out of pocket expenditure, this will directly translate into full dispensing of antimicrobials thereby enhancing eradication of microbes and leading to reduction of antimicrobial resistance,” he stressed.
Dr Ogboghodo, also highlighted the consequences of antibiotic resistance which she described as a major public health problem. According to her, antibiotic reduces the doctor’s choices of treatment, limiting specific antibiotics suitable for that infection. Thus, the physician is forced to choose an antibiotic which may be expensive or perhaps more toxic and potentially moderate pharmacokinetics for a particular infection.
“It increases mortality. Many nosocomial (hospital acquired) infections are already caused by bacteria resistance to all known antibiotics and many researchers believe that we will return to the pre-antibiotic period.
“It increases human pain, infections become refractory, and the patient remains in hospital longer than they would have or are forced into the hospital, because it is necessary to use intravenous therapy.
“The occurrence of resistance in hospitals is considered an indicator of poor quality care services’’ she said.