Say no new ones in the pipeline
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.
In an interview with her in Lagos, she said it has been found that lots of people abuse antibiotics, and its resistance has become a global challenge that have put lots of countries at risk, including Nigeria.
She told The Guardian that misuse and overuse of antibiotics in the country is due to its accessibility over the counter with or without any professional prescriptions.
Sanyaolu, who said she won’t play any blame game as to its accessibility, noted that oftentimes, people are ignorant because they do not understand the consequences of their actions and how such can 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 of the 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, 10 million people are going to die from its resistance, “which is very alarming.”
The 2015 Global Action Plan states that, “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 harmonised and immediate action on a global scale, the world is heading towards a post-antibiotic era in which common infections could once again kill.
Antibiotics, Sanyaolu said, are 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,” she said.
She explained that those groups of medicine are for the treatment of infections arising from microorganism invasion of the human tissue causing diseases.
She said: “antibiotics are only meant for treatment of bacterial infection, but you find people purchasing them to treat viral infections. This is an inappropriate use of this 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. About 70 per cent of these infections are 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 bacterial it’s supposed to fight gets an adaptive mechanism against the drug, such that it renders it ineffective, which poses serious risk to any victim, because they can die as a result of that infection.”
She cited the current challenge of people’s resistance to the Tuberculosis drugs, owing to abuse of these antibiotics.”
Sanyaolu lamented that this turn of event is rather unfortunate, as there are no new antibiotics in the pipeline, due to the expensive nature of research and development. She, however, said researches are still underway to ascertain the potency of the existing antibiotics for treatments of infectious diseases by healthcare professionals and companies.
The 2015 WHO Global Action Plan on antibiotic stated that, just few replacement products are in the pipeline.
The general practitioner warned that until the right attitude to the use of drugs, especially antibiotics, is 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 lose 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 haven’t been any new classes of antibiotics since the late 1980s and there are very few ones in the pipeline of the big pharmaceutical companies that develop and make drugs.
Prof. Oyewale Tomori, outgoing President, Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS), also identified two major issues regarding antibiotics resistance, saying 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 grow more resistance.
He explained that if it is an infectious disease, the system of the infected person automatically develops resistance, as a result of the trait in the disease host’s body.
“If people would only realise the gravity of their action. You are using a drug, which is not having any effect and you are dying, as a result, it should be enough to make them do the right thing,” he said.
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 obtains in some developed countries.
The guideline, she said, would guide healthcare professionals and doctors on antibiotic prescription, as this is not the job of just one person.
She advised that people should visit the hospital with any complaint for comprehensive laboratory investigation, as there are several reasons that could cause symptoms.
“Antibiotics should strictly be prescribed by a doctor. People should not force their doctors to prescribe them. They should also not self medicate.
Antibacterial resistance happens, when organisms are able to survive medicines aimed at destroying them,” she said.
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