In accordance with the 2015 World Health Assembly’s number one Global Action Plan on antimicrobial (antibiotics) resistance, a medical General Practitioner, Dr Mojisola Sanyaolu, has cautioned Nigerians against the misuse and overuse of antibiotics, stating the dangers attributed to such acts.
In an interview with our reporter, she said it had been found that lots of people abuse antibiotics and its resistance had become a global challenge that had put lots of countries at risk, including Nigeria.
She advanced that misuse and overuse of antibiotics in the country were due to its accessibility over the counter with or without any professional prescriptions.
Sanyaolu, who refused to play any blame game as to its accessibility, noted that oftentimes, people were ignorant because they did not understand the consequences of their actions and how such could harm them, hence the need to strengthen awareness on its resistance.
World Health Organisation (WHO) outlined five objectives during the 2015 Global Action Plan on antimicrobial resistance, and top on their priority was improving awareness and understanding of antimicrobial resistance through effective communication, education and training.
According to her, WHO has predicted that, if by 2050 nothing is done about antibiotic misuse, about 10 million deaths will be recorded annually due to resistance.
The 2015 Global Action Plan states, “Its resistance threatens the very core of modern medicine and the sustainability of an effective, global public health response to the enduring threat from infectious diseases.”
According to the plan, the systematic misuse and overuse of these drugs in human medicine and food production have put every nation at risk and without a harmonised and immediate action on a global scale; the world is heading towards a post-antibiotic era in which common infections can once again kill.
Antibiotics, Sanyaolu said, were supposed to be used at the right time, with the appropriate dose for the right number of days and within the correct interval. “However, people tend to use them not according to prescription and others do not discontinue as of when due, because they feel not fully recovered yet.”
Those groups of medicines, she expatiated, were for the treatment of infections arising from microorganism invasion of the human tissue causing diseases.
Adding that “antibiotics are only meant for the treatment of bacterial infection, but you find people using them to treat viral infections, an instance of inappropriate use of these set of drugs.
“In clinical practice, respiratory tract infections in children, cough and catarrh have been identified as common viral infections, which most people treat with antibiotics inappropriately, citing that about 70 per cent of these infections is viral.
“Antibiotics resistance threatens the efficient prevention and treatment of the ever-growing array of bacterial caused infections. This means due to their overuse, the bad bacteria it’s supposed to fight and gets an adaptive mechanism against the drug, such that it renders it ineffective, which poses a serious risk to any victim because they can die as a result of that infection.”
She gave an example to be the current challenge of people’s resistance to the Tuberculosis drugs, owing to abuse.
The 2015 WHO Global Action Plan on antibiotic stated that just a few replacement products were in the pipeline.
The general practitioner warned that until the right attitude to the use of drugs, especially antibiotics, was cultivated, even the newly discovered ones would still be abused.
Similarly, Prof. Dame Sally Davies, who described antibiotic resistance as “a ticking time bomb” in a report by Fergus Walsh, warned that routine operations could become deadly in just 20 years if we lost the ability to fight infections because of the resistance.
Sally advanced in the report that, “if we don’t take action, then we may all be back in an almost 19th Century environment, where infections kill us as a result of routine operations. We won’t be able to do a lot of our cancer treatments or organ transplants.”
She reiterated that there had not been any new classes of antibiotics since the late 1980s and there were very few ones in the pipeline of the big pharmaceutical companies that develop and make drugs.
Prof. Oyewale Tomori, a former President, Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS), also identified two major issues regarding antibiotics resistance, identifying fake drugs with inappropriate content as one of the causes, since organisms develop resistance to insufficient drugs.
“Non-completion of treatment is the other factor, which weakens the bacteria, but enables it to eventually out power the drug,” he said.
He explained that if it was an infectious disease, the system of the infected person automatically developed resistance, as a result of the trait in the disease host’s body.
If people would only realise the gravity of their action and how deadly it was, Tomori remarked, then they would do the right thing.”
Although some healthcare practitioners are driving an agenda for a policy guideline in that regard, Sunyaolu still urged the government to prioritise it in order to enhance the proper and rational use of antibiotics, as obtained in some developed countries.
The guideline, she said, would guide healthcare professionals and doctors on antibiotic prescription, as this was not the job of just one person.
She, however, urged people to visit the hospital with any complaint for comprehensive laboratory investigation, as there were several reasons that could cause symptoms.
“Antibiotics should strictly be prescribed by a doctor. People should not force their doctors to prescribe them, and they should also not self medicate,” she advised.
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