COVID-19: Antibiotics misuse can accelerate antimicrobial resistance – experts



By Rotimi Adeyeye/Vivian Ihechu

A Consultant Clinical Microbiologist, Dr Mutiu Bamidele, has warned that  misuse of antibiotics could lead to accelerated emergence and spread of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).

Bamidele gave the warning  at an event to mark the 2020 World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW). The event was organised by the ST.RACHEAL’S Pharmaceuticals, Lagos.

The slogan for WAAW 2020 is “Antimicrobials: Handle With Care” while the theme for the human health sector for WAAW 2020 is “United to Preserve Antimicrobials’’.

Bamidele, who works at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), spoke on “Antibiotic Resistance in Nigeria: A Call to Action’’.

According to him,  AMR  occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change overtime and no longer respond to medicines, making common infections harder to treat and increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death.

COVID-19 is now one of the causes of antimicrobial resistance. “The impact of COVID-19 will increase the use of antibiotics because when people get fever and they don’t want to stress themselves by going for a COVID-19 test, they use antimicrobials, and overuse or use of drugs which may or may not cure the sickness causes antimicrobial resistance.

“Even in parties, people give out antibiotics so that their guests won’t get stomach upsets; this is wrong,’’ he said.

Bamidele said that multiple factors including overuse of medicines in humans and livestock  as well as poor access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene, had accelerated the threat of antimicrobial resistance worldwide.

According to him, there are recommended four necessary actions to prevent antimicrobial resistance.

“They include preventing infections and the spread of resistance, tracking  resistance patterns and reporting back to medical and hospital staff, developing new drugs and diagnostic tests and improving antibiotic prescription  and stewardship,’’ he said.

The Commissioner for Health, Ogun, Dr Tomi Coker, said that the state government had begun basic healthcare provision fund of the National Health Act, 2014.

She gave the assurance that it  would provide free healthcare for the vulnerable, elderly, children and pregnant women.

Coker said that health financing would improve the quality of care and provide drugs in the health facilities.

She advised on the use of data and research in hospitals to improve health outcomes.

The commissioner said that emergence of COVID-19 had helped in the use of software for capturing results and data of COVID-19 patients.

“I believe the health system is changing and will be relying more on technology and software so that states will be having digitised records which make it easy to draw out data analysis.

“For us in Ogun State, we will be digitalising our health records in all hospitals. From my office, I can press a button and know where my outbreaks are and what is causing them; that is the vision,’’ Coker said.

Mr Akinjide Adeosun , the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of  ST.RACHEAL’S Pharmaceuticals,  said that  one of the major objectives of the week was to create awareness  on antimicrobial resistance through effective communication, education and training.

Adeosun listed  major causes of AMR to include non-availability of new antibiotics, overuse of existing antibiotics, poverty and lack of funds for the medical industry.

“To tackle the problem of antibiotics resistance, we need to tackle poverty and funding the healthcare industry.

“I urge our national and sub-national governments to institute free medicare for the poor.

“One per cent of the profits of companies should be legislated to fund this scheme at the national level and one per cent of tax at the sub national level,’’ he said.

He also advocated increase in salaries of medical practitioners so that they could deliver care more effectively.

He advised  Nigerians to stop self-medication and buy antibiotics only on doctor’s prescription, adding that they should handle antimicrobials with care.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports  Mrs Adeola Alli, Co-founder/CEO of OneHealth Pharmacy, Lagos,  also  spoke at the event.

She recommended continuous education and training for pharmacists, subsidised cost of healthcare and use of emerging technologies to help in community practices, to  end antimicrobial resistance. (NAN)


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