Report reveals Nigeria, Ghana, 12 others only test five out of 15 ‘priority’ antibiotic-resistant pathogens
• FG, WHO seek adoption of best practices to promote patient safety
New data on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) from 14 sub-Saharan countries shows that only five out of the 15 antibiotic-resistant pathogens designated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as priority pathogens are being consistently tested and that all five demonstrated high resistance.
The study, across 14 countries, including Nigeria, reveals lack of laboratory capacity and erratic use of available antibiotics.
It also finds only 1.3 per cent of medical laboratories conduct any bacteriology testing.
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.
According to WHO, AMR threatens effective prevention and treatment of an ever-increasing range of infections caused by bacteria and parasites.
WHO has repeatedly said AMR is a global health priority and one of the leading public health threats in the 21st century.
The multi-year, multi-country study was carried out by Mapping Antimicrobial Resistance and Antimicrobial Use Partnership (MAAP), a consortium spearheaded by the African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM), with partners including the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the One Health Trust, the West African Health Organisation (WAHO), the East, Central and Southern Africa Health Community (ECSA-HC), Innovative Support to Emergencies, Diseases and Disasters, and IQVIA.
The results of the study, which was supported by the Fleming Fund, were released at a meeting held at the African Union.
MAAP reviewed 819,584 AMR records from 2016 to 2019, from 205 laboratories across Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Eswatini, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Gabon and Cameroun.
MAAP also reviewed data from 327 hospital and community pharmacies and 16 national-level AMC datasets.
Researchers found that most laboratories across Africa are not ready for AMR testing. Only 1.3 per cent of the 50,000 medical laboratories (forming laboratory networks of the 14 participating countries) conduct bacteriology testing.
And of those, only a fraction can handle the scientific processes needed to evaluate AMR. Researchers also found that in eight of the 14 countries, more than half of the population is out of reach of any bacteriology laboratory.
MEANWHILE, the Federal Government is working to develop a national policy and strategy on patient safety and quality of care, aimed at improving medication safety, surgical safety and safety of all medical procedures in the country.
To this end, the government and WHO called for adoption of best practices at the point of care to promote patient safety.
They also stressed the need to tackle medication errors, to reduce severe avoidable medication-related harm by 50 per cent globally, in the next five years, through focused activities and interventions targeting patients and the public; health care professionals; and medicines, systems and medication practices.
According to WHO, about $42 billion of total health expenditure worldwide could be averted if medication errors are addressed.
Speaking at an event in Abuja, yesterday, to commemorate the 2022 World Patient Safety Day, with the theme, ‘Medication Safety’, Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said though the benefits of drugs cannot be overemphasised, medications can sometimes cause serious harm, if they are not used correctly, as a result of miscommunication between the patient and healthcare giver, error in prescriptions, poor monitoring of patient on medication and misuse of antibiotics.
Also speaking, WHO Country Representative, Dr. Walter Mulombo, said global estimates show that medication errors contribute to over three million deaths every year, a situation exacerbated by overwhelmed health systems during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mulombo, who was represented by WHO Deputy Country Representative, Dr. Alex Chimbaru, noted that about one in every four cases of preventable medication harm is clinically severe, or life-threatening.