700,000 people die yearly from drug-resistant infections, says expert
The Department of Medical Microbiology, University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), on Friday, celebrated the Antimicrobial Awareness Week with a call for increased awareness on various antimicrobial agents used for the treatment of infections.
A Consultant Clinical Microbiologist and Infection Control Physician at the university, Dr. Igunma Jeremiah, made the call during an event to mark the week, in conjunction with the Departments of Pharmacy, Family Medicine/General practice clinic (GPC), Clinical Pharmacology unit as well as the Association of Resident Doctors, with sponsorship from the management of UBTH and Pfizer Pharmaceuticals.
This year’s Awareness Week, with the theme: “Preventing antimicrobial resistance together” had in attendance, members of the Local Organising Committee including Dr. Osaigbovo Iriagbonse; Dr. Adebowale Afolabi Joseph; Dr. Yowin Edit and others
Igunma said marking the week was a global event celebrated between November 18 and 24, yearly, adding that
the event was intended to increase awareness on antimicrobial agents used for the treatment of infections.
“Antibiotics have saved millions of lives, and estimates show that they increase the average human lifespan by 23 years, ” he said.
They continue to be an essential tool in modern medicine. However, the benefits derived from this magic bullet are speedily being eroded by the continual emergence and spread of genes, which cause antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
“Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when disease-causing micro-organisms mutate over time, meaning that they are harder to treat because they can resist the drug’s effects even when it is of adequate composition, taken at the appropriate dose, for the correct duration and for the right disease condition. This results in bacterial infections becoming more difficult to treat, or in some cases, impossible.
“AMR is not a problem of the future, it is a present, though sometimes hidden, danger– already at least 700,000 people die annually from drug-resistant infections. By 2050 drug-resistant microbes could lead to ten million deaths annually if appropriate measures are not taken. This silent pandemic must be addressed as a matter of urgency, or the death toll will continue unabated.
“The common reasons why AMR develops and spreads include Antibiotic Misuse (for example patients taking antibiotics when they have a common cold which is viral in origin). Overuse of antibiotics in livestock and fish farming. Lack of clean water and sanitation which encourages the spread of disease-causing germs. Inadequate infection prevention and control, especially in health facilities, and Counterfeit drugs.”
Jeremiah said that preventing antimicrobial resistance requires a concerted effort and collaboration among practitioners of human health, animal husbandry and environmental health, stressing that, “together, we can avert the catastrophe occasioned by AMR.”