The Federal Government has started the 2021 World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) to create awareness on the misuse or overuse of antimicrobials and to spread awareness about Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Muhammad Mahmood, at the launch of the campaign on Thursday in Abuja, to commemorate the 2021 AMR week, called on Nigerians to join the campaign to stop inappropriate use of antimicrobials.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme of WAAW 2021 is “Spread Awareness, Stop Resistance,” which calls on One Health stakeholders, policymakers, healthcare providers and the general public to be AMR awareness champions.
“AMR, is a global public health threat today and one that has been recognised as a silent pandemic.
“More and more antibiotics are becoming ineffective and infectious diseases are becoming difficult to treat due to this phenomenon,” said Mahmood.
He urged stakeholders to commit the week to spreading AMR messages among families, colleagues, friends and communities.
“Let us all remember that failure to take appropriate action at a time when new antibiotics are hardly being developed could mean the return of pre-antibiotics era in which infections caused by multiple resistant pathogens were intractable,“ said the minister.
He noted that AMR accelerated due to the misuse and overuse of antimicrobials in human health, animal health, food-animal production and crop production.
In addition, the minister said the environment played a significant role as waste from farms, factories, community and healthcare settings could contribute to the emergence and spread of AMR through environmental routes.
“AMR occurs naturally over time, usually through genetic changes. Antimicrobial resistant organisms are found in people, animals, food, plants and the environment (in water, soil and air).
“They can spread from person to person or between people and animals, including from food of animal origin,” he said.
The minister that antimicrobials may save lives and was essential for treating a variety of diseases, but misuse or overuse could result in antimicrobial resistance.
He advised that relevant professionals n the country, especially veterinarians, physicians, nurses and other human as well as animal health workers should use antimicrobials responsibly and prudently.
Dr Abiodun Egwuenu, Antimicrobial Resistance Programme Coordinator, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), said it was everybody’s responsibility to preserve lives and the available antimicrobial agents.
Egwuenu added that the risk that antimicrobial resistance posed was scary, which included an increase in cost of health care, treatment failure even with the most effective drugs, and above all, fatality.
She called on Nigerians to take the necessary measures to fight this scourge.
“Nigerians can fight AMR through proper sanitation and hygiene, to rational prescription and dispensing of antimicrobials, avoiding self medication and adherence to prescribed medication till it is completed,” she advised.
Dr Olayinka umar-Farouk, Deputy Project Director, Risk Communication, Breakthrough Action Nigeria, said USAID and Breakthrough Action Nigeria supported the Global Health Security Agenda of which antimicrobial resistance was an area of focus.
“This week will be drawing attention on how we can all play our part. I enjoin everyone to use their networks to spread awareness to stop resistance,” he said.
She stressed that antimicrobial resistance was one of the most urgent global threats to public health, adding that it could cause side-effects, including nausea,diarrhoea and contribute to the development of antibiotics resistance.
“The dangers of the COVID-19 pandemic can be much worse when we know the threats that AMR can pose to us and future generations.
“We need to avert the next silent pandemic of antimicrobial resistance.
“We have seen a decrease in antibiotics use, which we think we can attribute to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“For now we can only assume that the non pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) measures have contributed to the decrease,” she noted.
NAN, reports that Nigeria considers AMR a priority on the national public health agenda.
The country’s response to antimicrobial resistance, led by NCDC, began in 2016 following a situational analysis that investigated common antimicrobial-resistant pathogens recovered from hospitals, animal, agricultural and environmental sources.
The NCDC also conducted systematic reviews to assess the prescribing patterns of antimicrobials in hospitals across the country.
These efforts informed the development of the National Action Plan (NAP), designed with a 5-year focus in mind (2017–2022).
Overall, the Nigeria plan seeks to address five key pillars in consonance with the WHO Global Action Plan on AMR.
The pillars include: increasing awareness and knowledge of health workers and the general public on AMR; building a One Health surveillance system; intensifying infection prevention and control and biosecurity.
It also aims at promoting rational use of antimicrobials and access to quality medications, and research into alternatives to antimicrobials, new diagnostics and therapeutics. (NAN)