Health experts have opined that using antibiotics without prescription from medical experts is one of the major problems causing antibiotic resistance across the world leading to greater challenges in health management.
The experts also said lack of effective regulation and implementation of government policies and guidelines on the use and sale of drugs also cause high rise in drug abuse and antibiotic resistance.
Omotayo Hamzat, the National Professional Officer, Essential Drugs and Medicine, World Health Organisation, WHO, during a press briefing at the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, on Tuesday, in Abuja said the problem Nigeria is facing on antibiotic resistance is not the lack of policies but non-implementation and lack of regulation of available ones.
The press briefing was to commemorate the World Antibiotics Awareness Week, WAAW, which celebrated November 13-19. The theme of this year, being the maiden edition is “Handle Antibiotics with Care – think twice, seek advice”.
There is an increasing global problem of antimicrobial resistance, whereby antibiotics are no longer effective for the treatment of infectious diseases which they were specifically designed to fight. Concerns about growing global antibiotic resistance have plunged into new depths as the World Health Organisation, WHO, is now warning that the world is ”running out of antibiotics.”
Antibiotics, known as antibacterials, are drugs that destroy or slow down the growth of bacteria. They are meant to be used in treating specific types of bacteria and in general cannot be interchanged to treat any infection other than that they were designed for. But today they are indiscriminately used to treat diverse kinds of ailments.
The experts lamented that people now use antibiotics to treat infections like cold, flu, cough, and at times sore throat, caused by viruses.
Mr. Hamzat urged Nigerians to desist from self medication and indiscriminate use of antibiotics in other to reduce the threat of antibiotics resistance in their bodies.
“When we were younger, what we knew of was Septrin and Flagyl and those diseases that these drugs cure in those days. You realise in these days that you have to take a stronger antibiotics because we have abused the drugs. It (drug) is open and access is free without any investigation done on what is wrong.
“The antibiotic awareness week is about bringing up awareness of the citizen on what antibiotics are, what they can do, what they can not do, when and how they should use them to stop the misuse and abuse of antibiotic”, he said.
He said plans are also in place to strengthen regulatory authorities in the country to ensure rational use of antibiotics in both humans and animals.
The Executive Director, NCDC, Chikwe Ihekweazu, in his own remarks also called on Nigerians to stop using antibiotics without prescription from medical experts.
Mr. Ihekweazu said the emergence of antibiotic resistance has been complicating the management of infectious diseases especially where successes have been recorded in the last few years.
“The antibiotics that where once life savers are becoming a problem because of the misuse and this has led to a situation where antibiotics are not responding to the treatment of infections any longer and this is adversely affecting the human and animal health system and the economy. Developing countries will suffer more if a solution is not found to it.
“Antibiotic resistance is a problem that complicates both common and complex surgeries. It is meant to help to prevent from the risk of death or contacting infections from the surgery, however things are fast changing the the desired effect of the use of antibiotics is fast declining,” he added.
He said ”the threat of when antibiotics will fail to serve their roles in combating infectious diseases is currently the biggest fear of the entire global health system.”
He added that global bodies such as WHO, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, FAO, and the World Organisation for Animal Health are advocating for responsible use of antibiotics in humans and animals.
Mr. Ihekweazu said, in response to this emerging crises, NCDC recently brought together experts from various ministries and agencies, academia and the private sector to chart a path towards a National Action Plan to combat antimicrobial resistance in Nigeria.
He added though that Nigeria is not yet where it should be with the curbing of indiscriminate antibiotics use, he is however optimistic that the country is on the right path.
The agency, as part of the events lined up for the week also had a road walk on Monday in collaboration with WHO, members of the National Youth Service Corp, NYSC, and other health partners to sensitise Nigerians on the dangers of using antibiotics without proper medical investigations and prescription.
The campaign which kicked off from the NCDC office in Jabi through the Jabi motor park and ended at Utako market.
Mr. Abiodun Ogunniyi, an epidemiologist with NCDC, said the agency embarked on the road walk to sensitise Nigerian on the need to be cautious with the way they use drugs especially unprescribed drugs such as antibiotics which is fast becoming resistant in the treatment of ailments and bacterial infection.
Dooshiwa Kwange, Department of Pest Control Service, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development also urged the government to implement policies that will protect both humans and animals.
Ten things to know about antibiotics
1. Always seek the advice of a qualified health care professional before taking antibiotics.
2. Antibiotics do not treat viral infections such as cold and flu.
3. You can help prevent infection through good hygiene.
4. Always get a laboratory test done to rule out type of infections before taking antibiotics.
5. Never share antibiotics. Always finish your dosage. Antibiotics ‘is never too small but can be too many,’ always stick to the recommended dosage.
6. Anybody can become antibiotic resistant no matter the age or country.
7. Antibiotics resistance poses a big threat to global health.
8. Constant and unnecessary treatment of animals with antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance.
9. When a human becomes antibiotic resistant, common antibiotics may stop working for them and they would have to spend more to buy advanced antibiotics to treat common infections.
10. The rise of antibiotics resistance is leading to infections not being treatable and the threat can affect anyone.
Commonly misused antibiotics in Nigeria
1. Penicillins such as amoxicillin;
2. Ciprotab, Ciprofolxacin;
4. Tetracycline, doxycycline.