Handle antibiotics with care, Microbiologist cautions amid widespread abuse

Handle antibiotics with care, Microbiologist cautions amid widespread abuse

As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to commemorate the World Antibiotic Awareness Week 2019  (WAAW) this week, renowned Clinical  Microbiologist, Prof. Oyinkan  Oduyebo of the College of Medicine, University of Lagos has urged individuals, health workers and policy makers to handle antibiotics with care as the drugs are fast becoming less effective because germs are becoming resistant to them.

Speaking at the Annual WAAW media sensitisation forum organised by St. Racheal’s Pharma in Lagos on Wednesday, November 21, Prof. Oduyebo who is  also the Chairman,  Lagos University Teaching Hospital’s Antimicrobial Stewardship Committee  and Coordinator, National Antimicrobial Stewardship Committee said there’s need to protect  the antibiotic currently in use as new ones are not being produced to replace them.

Such protection could be achieved if both the prescribers and users strictly follow the principles of antibiotic therapy to ensure that the drugs are being used to treat what they are meant to treat and not subject to abuse, she said.

One of the principles, according to her, would be for care givers to watch out for evidence of infection, determine whether or not such infection would respond to antibiotic treatment,  request laboratory analysis before treatment and deciding on the appropriate drug to be used.

Oduyebo showed statistics from studies showing that virtually all antibiotics currently in use worldwide have suffered some form of resistance from organisms.

“Antimicrobial resistance occur when microorganisms change in their response to antimicrobials such  that infections can no longer be treated with the antimicrobials to which the microbes were once sensitive.

“As a result, the antibiotics become ineffective and infections persist in the body, increasing the risk of spread to others. This leads to higher medical costs, longer duration of treatment, prolonged hospital stays and increased mortality,” she said.

The Microbiologist called on hospitals to adopt antibiotic policy as part of  their formulary to ensure  a rational use of antibiotics.

“An antibiotic policy will improve patient care by promoting the best practices in antibiotic prophylaxis and therapy. It will ensure better use of resources by using cheaper drugs where possible and also retard the emergence and spread of multiple antibiotic resistant bacteria.

“An antibiotic policy will also improve education of younger doctors by providing guidelines for appropriate therapy. It will eliminate the use of unnecessary or ineffective antibiotics and restrict the use of expensive or active ‘powerful’ ones.”

Prof. Oduyebo declared that it would take a concerted efforts by everyone – individuals, healthcare workers, and policy makers  to effectively address the current huge problem of antibiotic resistance.

She called on individuals  to use antibiotics only when prescribed by a certified health professional; never demand antibiotics if the doctor says they are not needed  while they should follow doctor’s prescription when using antibiotics.

“Never share or use leftover antibiotics. You can prevent infections by regularly washing your hands, preparing food hygienically, avoiding contact with sick people, practicing safer sex and keeping vaccinations up to date,”  she advised.

Prof. Oduyebo also urged health workers to prevent infections  by ensuring their hands, instruments and environment  are clean.

“Only prescribe and dispense antibiotics when they are needed, according to current guidelines.  Report  antibiotic-resistant infections to surveillance teams.”

She further advised health workers to always enlighten their  patients  about  how to take antibiotics correctly, about resistance and the dangers of misuse.

Earlier in his address, the Chairman, Chief Executive Officer of St. Racheal’s Pharma Mr. Akinjide Adeosun  said the company, also known as ‘House of Antibiotics’  fully aligns with  WHO’s efforts towards raising awareness on the global menace of irrational use of antibiotics.

According to him, the company decided to organise the WAAD media sensitization forum  to  increase global awareness of antibiotic resistance and also to raise awareness about the fatality of preventable and treatable Respiratory tract infections.

He cited a recent report by UNICEF which revealed that Pneumonia ( A killer lower respiratory bacteria disease) claimed the lives of more than 800,000 children under the age of five globally in 2018,or one child every 39 seconds, even as Nigeria recorded the highest burden with an estimated 162,000 deaths or 443 deaths per day (18 deaths every hour).

“I urge the Federal, State and Local Governments in Nigeria to strengthen their Pneumonia Control Strategies to reduce child Pneumonia Mortality,” he said.

Mr Adeosun  also advocated the establishment of a health care bank like the bank of Industry  and agriculture. This, he said would cater for the strategic needs of the health care of the nation.

“Only an educated workforce with sound health can be productive thereby leading to the prosperity of Nigeria,” he said.


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