Abubakar Yunusa Abuja
The Federal Government of Nigeria has stated that the abuse of antibiotics is threatening health systems in the country.
Chairperson, Nigeria Antimicrobial Resistance Coordination Committee, Tochi Okwor, said the abuse of such drugs is increasing antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
AMR happens when bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites adapt over time and stop responding to medications, making illnesses more difficult to cure even as it increases the risk of disease transmission, life-threatening sicknesses, and death.
Speaking on Friday at a media briefing organised by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to commemorate the World Antimicrobial Awareness Week, Okwor said AMR is one of the top 10 global public health threats facing humanity.
She added that it has affected the effective treatment of an ever-increasing range of infections caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi.
“The dangers of buying antibiotics over the counter are many. You are not sure if the antibiotics you are buying is the right one for what is wrong with you.
“For you to be sure of the antibiotics to take, your sample has to be taken in the lab and it is in the lab that the organism causing the infection is known.
“How do you know the dose to take? Who monitors the dosage you take? You have to be advised on the dose to take and you have to be monitored by an expert.
“The best way to take antibiotics is to go to the hospital, have a health worker check you and take your sample, have your result come out in a timely manner and use what we call antibiotics formulary. We have guidelines of antibiotics to prescribe according to the specific guidelines,” she said.
Daniel Onwuliri, USAID’s global health security agenda programme’s senior technical advisor, said the event themed ‘Preventing Antimicrobial Resistance Together’ was critical to arresting the growing threat of resistance to antimicrobials.
“Antimicrobials resistance remains an ongoing threat to all and it’s a silent pandemic, or like some have called it, ‘a pandemic in waiting’,” he said.
“The antimicrobial use problem where unregulated access to antimicrobials is rife creates a great burden for the health system and for communities working to tackle AMR.
“Our collaborative efforts are therefore important and USAID MTaPS has supported the one-health approach to address AMR,” she spoke further.
Niniola Williams, managing director, Dr. Ameyo Stella Adadevoh Health Trust, said the fight against AMR would be targeted at youths as they are the largest consumers of antibiotics.
“Antimicrobial resistance is a pandemic in the shadows, and one of the top global health threats capable of leading to the death of 10 million people and a $100 trillion loss in our global economy by the year 2050,” she said.
“As the time ticks by slowly in this room, it is a reminder that everyday, including this moment, presents an opportunity to reduce the burden of this menace in our society.
“In particular, we believe in investing in youth as a key stakeholder group in the fight against AMR. They are the current consumers and future prescribers of these medications and they have the ability to contribute to solutions,” she added.