Distinguished clinical microbiologist of the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Prof. Oyinkan Oduyebo has urged individuals, health workers and policy makers to handle antibiotics with care, noting that this class of drugs is fast becoming less effective because germs are becoming resistant to them.
Speaking during the 2019 World Antibiotic Awareness Week (WAAW) media sensitisation forum, recently organised by St. Racheal’s Pharma in Lagos, Oduyebo who is also the chairman, Lagos University Teaching Hospital’s Antimicrobial Stewardship Committee and coordinator, National Antimicrobial Stewardship Committee said there’s need to protect the antibiotics currently in use, warning that new ones are not being produced to replace them.
Oduyebo stated that both the prescribers and the users must begin to strictly follow the principles of antibiotic therapy and ensure that the drugs are used to treat what they are meant to treat and not being abused.
One of the principles, according to her, would be for caregivers to watch out for evidence of infection, determine whether or not such infection would respond to antibiotic treatment, request laboratory analysis before treatment and taking decision on the appropriate drug to be used.
Oduyebo presented reports from different studies showing that virtually all antibiotics currently in use worldwide had suffered some form of resistance from organisms.
She said: “Antimicrobial resistance occurs when microorganisms change in their response to antimicrobials, such that infections can no longer be treated with the antimicrobials to which the microbes were once sensitive.
“As a result, the antibiotics become ineffective and infections persist in the body, increasing the risk of spread to others. This leads to higher medical costs, longer duration of treatment, prolonged hospital stays and increased mortality.”
She called on hospitals to adopt antibiotic policy as part of their formulary to ensure rational use of antibiotics.
An antibiotic policy, she said, will improve patient care by promoting the best practices in antibiotic prophylaxis and therapy.
“It will ensure better use of resources by using cheaper drugs where possible and also retard the emergence and spread of multiple antibiotic resistant bacteria. An antibiotic policy will also improve education of younger doctors by providing guidelines for appropriate therapy. It will eliminate the use of unnecessary or ineffective antibiotics and restrict the use of expensive or active ‘powerful’ ones,” she said.
Oduyebo also noted that it would take concerted efforts by everyone – individuals, healthcare workers, and policy makers – to effectively address the current spate of antibiotic resistance.
She called on individuals to use antibiotics only when prescribed by a certified health professional; to never demand antibiotics if the doctor says they are not needed and to also strictly follow a doctor’s prescription when using antibiotics.
“Never share or use leftover antibiotics. You can prevent infections by regularly washing your hands, preparing food hygienically, avoiding contact with sick people, practising safer sex and keeping vaccinations up to date,” she advised.
Oduyebo also urged health workers to prevent infections by ensuring their hands, instruments and environment are clean, adding that they should prescribe and dispense antibiotics only when they are needed, according to current guidelines, as well as report antibiotic-resistant infections to surveillance teams.
She further advised health workers to always enlighten their patients on proper handling of antibiotics, antibiotics resistance and the dangers of antibiotics misuse.
Speaking earlier at the media parley, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of St. Rachel’s Pharma, Pharm. Akinjide Adeosun, said the company, also known as “House of Antibiotics”, fully aligns with WHO’s efforts towards raising awareness on the global menace of irrational use of antibiotics.
The company, Adeosun said, decided to organise the WAAD media sensitisation forum to increase global awareness on antibiotic resistance and also to raise awareness about the fatality of preventable and treatable respiratory tract infections.
He cited a recent report by UNICEF which revealed that pneumonia (a killer lower respiratory bacteria disease) claimed the lives of more than 800,000 children under the age of five globally in 2018, which equalled one child every 39 seconds, noting that Nigeria had the highest burden of the condition with an estimated 162,000 deaths or 443 deaths per day (approximately 18 deaths every hour).
He urged the federal, state and local governments in the country to strengthen their pneumonia control strategies to reduce child pneumonia mortality.
Adeosun also advocated the establishment of a healthcare bank, like the bank of Industry and the Agricultural Development Bank. This, he said would cater for the strategic needs of the nation’s health sector.