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By Chioma Obinna

On this year’s World Antimicrobial Awareness Week, WAAW, medical experts at the weekend traced the ugly trend of resistance by infection-causing germs to antibiotics to poor adherence, unrestricted access and overprescription of antibiotics by health professionals.

At a virtual media dialogue to mark WAAW organised by St. Racheal’s Pharma, the experts who described the situation as unacceptable stressed that to preserve the few antibiotics currently in the market as well as ensure they continued to be effective, the government, medical practitioners and the public must make effort towards preserving them.

Alerting that new ones are not being introduced, they warned that Nigeria and the world may be heading towards the pre-antibiotic period when infections and wounds kill freely without effective treatments and cures.

In his presentation, a Public Health Physician and Head, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Benin Teaching Hospital, UBTH, Dr Esohe Ogboghodo identified major causes of antibiotics resistance to include unrestricted access by members of the public to antibiotics, and poor adherence amongst others.

According to him, “Unrestricted access to antimicrobials over the counter from pharmacies, under-regulated patent medicine vendors and hawkers may be the biggest driver of resistance in Nigeria.”

Ogboghodo lamented that patent medicine stores and hawkers often sell drugs that are outside the list of medicines approved for them.

“In addition, there are also several itinerant drug sellers that go about hawking unapproved and often poor quality medicines to the public including antimicrobial agents. The ease of access and overuse of antimicrobials has resulted in an increased resistance of bacteria to antibiotics, which is paradoxically leading to a loss of effectiveness.”

Ogboghodo said: “Poor adherence to antibiotics prescription by individuals has also been implicated. Factors contributing to poor adherence to antimicrobial treatment include financial incapability to purchase full dose, long duration of treatment and side effects experienced.  The unfinished doses of antimicrobials are usually kept for future use, or given to other persons with similar complaints.”

Speaking, the Managing Director of St. Racheal’s Pharma, Mr Akinjide Adeosun, lamented Nigeria’s out–of–pocket healthcare expenditure, adding that it has contributed to the burden of antibiotic resistance in the country.

He stated that the pressure on patients to pay often leads to the sub-optimal purchase of antimicrobial doses leading to microbial resistance to available drugs.

“I hereby state my unequivocal support to the House of Representatives’ bill championed by Hon. Bello Kaoje to make Children’s healthcare services free. This will revolutionise care for Children in Nigeria. This bill has passed the second reading and must be supported by everyone. “If parents don’t have to worry about out of pocket expenditure, this will directly translate into full dispensing of antimicrobials thereby enhancing eradication of microbes and leading to reduction of antimicrobial resistance,” he stressed.

In his submission, a Consultant Clinical Microbiologist, Lagos State College of Medicine and Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUCOM, Dr. Bamidele Mutiu blamed health practitioners for contributing to the antibiotic resistance situation in Nigeria.

Mutiu said some doctors’ prescribe the drugs without proper investigation to ensure whether or not antibiotics are required.  He said the theme of the year, “Spread Awareness, Stop Resistance”, he said it should start with health practitioners.

He accused health workers of adding antibiotics to the prescriptions of patients to increase the amount the patient will pay and increase profit, hence, the need to look inward because health workers have a role to play.

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