December 1, 2020

Poverty is fuelling antibiotic resistance in Nigeria — Stakeholders

As COVID-19 threatens to accelerate spread of microbial resistance

By Gabriel Olawale

An alarm has been raised over increasing cases of antibiotic resistance in Nigeria as a result of lack of financial power by patients to access quality healthcare.   The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, St. Racheal’s Pharmaceutical Nigeria Limited, Akinjide Adeosun, who raises the alarm in Lagos during a media parley to mark 2020 World Antimicrobial Awareness week, said that to tackle antibiotic resistance, Nigeria needs to tackle poverty first.

“A patient who spends N381.75 per day on food and non-food cannot afford to buy a full dose of antibiotics worth N1, 000,” he observed even as he urged national and sub national governments to institute free medical care for the poor.

“One percent of the profit of companies should be legislated to fund this scheme at the national level and 1 percent tax from contractors at the sub-national government.

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“For it to be sustainable, I call on governments to make provision for free medical care in the annual budget. Federal government should set up HealthCare Bank to cater for the strategic needs of the health care Industry at Low-interest rate of 5 percent. “This will help the private sector to improve on the hard & soft infrastructures of the healthcare industry. Only an educated workforce with sound health can be productive thereby leading to the prosperity of Nigeria.

While calling on Nigerians to stop self-medication, buy and take the full dose of high quality antibiotics when prescribed by doctors & dispensed by pharmacists, Adeosun disclosed that St. Racheal’s Pharma aimed to improve life expectancy in Africathrough a tri-growth strategy.

“Two years ago, we commenced a 20-year journey that will see us launch into many markets on the continent, expand our offering from our core base of Antimicrobials into brands that will supplement Life & brands that will prevent diseases. As we scale, we will build local manufacturing factories, we will list on the local & international stock exchanges.

Corroborating his view, Consultant Clinical Microbiologist, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Bamidele Mutiu attributed increasing cases of antimicrobial resistance to misuse and overuse of antimicrobials in human, animal, and plants.   “Lack of clean water and sanitation in health care facilities, farms, community settings and inadequate infection prevention and control promotes the emergence and spread of drug-resistant infections.

He added that the misuse of antibiotics during COVID-19 pandemic could lead to accelerated emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance.

Mutiu said that physicians in their stewardship role must ensure optimal selection, dose and duration of an antibiotic resulting in the cure or prevention of infection with minimal unintended consequences to the patient including the emergence of resistance, adverse drug events, and cost.

Speaking on the theme, “United to preserve antimicrobials”, the Commissioner for Health, Ogun State, Dr. Tomi Coker called for more advocacy to policymakers at national and sub-national level while challenging Civil Society Organizations to engage the government on what they are doing concerning this antimicrobial issue.

“This is a silent killer issue and if we did not tackle it on time, it may soon become a crisis. These superbugs are already taking an enormous toll on health-care systems around the world. About 700,000 people globally die each year due to antimicrobial resistance (AMR), without new and better treatments, that figure could rise to ten million by 2050.

“Inevitably, the more that antibiotics are used, the more that bacteria develop resistance rendering the drugs less effective and leading public health authorities worldwide to flag antibiotic resistance as an urgent and growing public health threat.

Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer, One Health Pharmacy, Mrs. AdeolaAlli, urged healthcare providers not to relent in ensuring people have access to quality antimicrobial drugs.

Vanguard News Nigeria