Thursday, 1st June 2023

Experts alert to rising cases, deaths associated with antimicrobial resistance

By Chukwuma Muanya
25 May 2023   |   4:05 am
Medical experts have alerted to rising cases and deaths caused by antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

•Pfizer roundtable recommends antimicrobial stewardship, others to curb wide spread of menace
Medical experts have alerted to rising cases and deaths caused by antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

The medical experts, at an awareness online media roundtable, organised by Pfizer to create awareness about Antimicrobial Stewardship (AMS), said overuse of antibiotics is creating stronger germs and some bacteria are already “resistant” to common antibiotics.

The media roundtable was also to raise awareness in ensuring ongoing patient safety, so as to maintain the future effectiveness of antibiotics.

They said when bacteria become resistant to antibiotics, it is often harder and more expensive to treat infection, and losing the ability to treat serious bacterial infections is a major threat to public health.

They said at least 700,000 people die each year due to drug-resistant diseases. They said more and more common diseases, including respiratory tract infections, sexually transmitted infections and urinary tract infections, are untreatable; lifesaving medical procedures are becoming much riskier, and the food systems are increasingly precarious.

The medical experts include: a consultant microbiologist at Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) Idi-Araba, Prof. Oyinlola Omoniyi Oduyebo; a consultant microbiologist at University Teaching Hospital (UPTH), Rivers State, Dr. Kennedy Tamunoimiegbam Wariso; and Medical Director West Africa Pfizer, Dr. Kodjo Soroh.

Attended by many other medical professionals and health editors, the roundtable saw participants discuss the need for AMS as treatment of infections is becoming more difficult due to widespread emergence of antimicrobial resistance.

Soroh said: “AMR occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change over time and no longer respond to medicines, making infections harder to treat and increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death. AMR is one of the biggest threats to global health today and can affect anyone, of any age, in any country. If it continues to rise unchecked, minor infections could become life-threatening, serious infections could become impossible to treat, and many routine medical procedures could become too risky to perform. Without action by governments, industry, and society, AMR is expected to cause 10 million deaths each year by 2050.”

Oduyebo said: “AMR is a serious threat to global public health. It increases morbidity and mortality, and is associated with high economic costs due to its health care burden. Infections with multidrug-resistant (MDR) bacteria also have substantial implications on clinical and economic outcomes. Moreover, increased indiscriminate use of antibiotics during the COVID-19 pandemic will heighten bacterial resistance and ultimately lead to more deaths. This review highlights AMR’s scale and consequences, the importance, and implications of an antimicrobial stewardship programme (ASP) to fight resistance and protect global health. AMS, an organiSational or system-wide health-care strategy, is designed to promote, improve, monitor, and evaluate the rational use of antimicrobials to preserve their future effectiveness, along with the promotion and protection of public health.

“ASP has been very successful in promoting antimicrobials’ appropriate use by implementing evidence-based interventions. The ‘One Health’ approach, a holistic and multisectoral approach, is also needed to address AMR’s rising threat. AMS practices, principles, and interventions are critical steps towards containing and mitigating AMR. Evidence-based policies must guide the ‘One Health’ approach, vaccination protocols, health professionals’ education, and the public’s awareness about AMR.”

Wariso said: “Antimicrobial stewardship programmes optimise the use of antimicrobials, improve patient outcomes, reduce AMR and health-care-associated infections, and save health-care costs among others.

“With rates of AMR increasing worldwide, and very few new antibiotics being developed, existing antibiotics are becoming a limited resource. It is therefore essential that antibiotics only be prescribed – and that last-resort antibiotics (AWaRe RESERVE group) be reserved – for patients who truly need them. Hence, AMS and its defined set of actions for optimising antibiotic use are of paramount importance.”

He said a robust pipeline of new antimicrobials is essential to restoring the balance against increasing rates of AMR.

“However, significant economic hurdles have made research and development in this area a challenge. No novel class of antibiotics has been launched for almost 40 years, and even when newly approved treatments come to market, they may be used sparingly to support good antimicrobial stewardship practices – making it difficult to recover the high cost associated with development. New reimbursement models that more fully reflect the complete value of antimicrobials are critical,” he said.