Integrated efforts to combat antibiotic resistance

Articles

Minor infections used to kill a vast number of people. But thanks to the discovery of antibiotics, the majority of diseases which could otherwise inflict plague and mass death have been controlled for decades. Unfortunately, what is being witnessed today at a global level is antimicrobial or antibiotic resistance.

Let’s imagine a life without antibiotics. Let’s also think of a minor infection or a minor injury becoming a cause of death due to antibiotic resistance.


Will the human race thrive without antibiotics? The antibiotic resistance is now about to bring a devastating effect in the public health. Lack of effective antibiotics has already started to pose a threat to the existence of the human race as well as to animal and plant life. Antibiotics that were once effective and life savers are no longer bringing the desired effect.


But who is to be blamed for the increase in antibiotics resistance? Is it negligence, overuse, underuse or misuse of antibiotics by patients or inappropriate prescription of medicines by healthcare professionals? Inappropriate use of medicine by patients is the major cause for antibiotic resistance while the healthcare professionals also play a role in increasing the burden.


Antibiotic resistance is a serious healthcare threat that is expected to be a leading cause of death if no mitigation measures are taken as soon as possible.


Coordinated and significant action to improve the effectiveness of antibiotics and prevention of infections are remedial solutions to the dire consequence that could happen due to antimicrobial resistance.


The world Health Organization launched antibiotic resistance event in 2015. According to Dr. Berhane Ghebretinsae, Director General of the Department of Medical Services in the Ministry of Health, Eritrea soon joined the coordinated efforts to combat antibiotic resistance.


The country is now commemorating “World Antibiotic Resistance Week” from 13 to 19 November at a national level.


World Antibiotic Resistance Week was officially opened on 13 November in an event held at the Conference Hall of Orrotal Hospital, where local healthcare professionals, WHO representatives, UN agencies and invited guests were present.


An extensive panel discussion on antibiotics resistance in which professionals from the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture took part was also held during the opening of World Antibiotic Resistance Week, which is being held under the theme “Seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional before taking antibiotics!”


In his presentation on “Antibiotics Resistance: Global threat” Mr. Iyassu Bahta, Head of National Medicine and Food Administration at the Ministry of Health, stated various factors that affect and speed up antibiotic resistance.

Mr. Iyassu indicated that misuse of antibiotics in livestock, agriculture and crops is a key factor contributing to antibiotic resistance and is being spread into the environment, and the food chain and affecting humans.

Mr. Iyassu emphasized that doctors, nurses, veterinarians, other health workers, beneficiaries of healthcare, farmers and others in the agricultural sector as well as various stakeholders should share the burden of mitigating antibiotic resistance.

There is a growing threat from antibiotic resistance and this danger is not confined to humans alone but also to animals and plant health.

Taking into account that antibiotics resistance hinders any sort of development, Eritrea has taken an initiative which is aimed at tackling the issue. Mr. Iyassu said that in this line a coordination group from the ministries of Health, Agriculture, Land, Water and Environment, Marine resources, Academia and WHO country office has so far been established. This team is chaired by high level officials of the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture.

The initiative taken so far indicates Eritrea’s commitment to tackle any healthcare issue that could pose a threat to public health.

Optimal use of antibiotics in humans, animals as well as plants is the sole solution that could reverse the threat and its devastating effect. The primary objective of the antibiotics resistance wariness week is to dispense information on how hazardous antibiotics are when misused.

Dr. Josephine Namboze, WHO Representative in Eritrea, said “From being miracle life savers, antibiotics are becoming ineffective and global health security is at stake due to misuse of antibiotics.”

“Healthcare professionals should only prescribe antibiotics when they are truly needed,” Dr. Josephine added.

Not sharing antibiotics with others, always following the advice of a health professional when taking antibiotics and ensuring that antibiotics given to animals are used only to control or treat infectious diseases and under veterinary supervision are the messages which are being addressed in the antibiotic resistance awareness week.

Extensive sensitization programs will be carried out throughout the country as part of the efforts to increase effectiveness of medicines through rational use of antibiotics.

The fight against antibiotic resistance is among the top healthcare priorities. “In line with the global initiative, the already established coordination group has conducted situational analysis on the use of antimicrobials for humans, agriculture and the environmental and identified the gaps and is currently working to develop the strategic objectives and activities for practical intervention,” Dr. Berhane said.

Due to an easy access to antibiotics, new resistance trends are continuously emerging. That is why, Eritrea has taken the initiative to conduct massive sensitization program to the general public. Lack in the development of new antibiotics has been further worsening the effectiveness of antimicrobials.

The combined effort of professionals in the Health Ministry and other stakeholders is indeed decisive in the fight against Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR). The already established coordination group is therefore expected to make a difference.

Dr. Berhane said, in this regard, that a committee established from all the stakeholders has been working rigorously in identifying the major activities that need to be addressed according to the country’s context. Some of the activities include publishing promotional papers and conducting awareness raising lectures in the national media, health facilities and high schools.

The extensive discussions conducted among healthcare professionals in various specialties and Agriculture Ministry representatives shed light on various topics that deal with the serious threats of antibiotic resistance.

Among the topics discussed include the fact that antibiotic resistance in animals affects the development of antibiotic resistance in humans. Thus, authorized plant and animal health professionals should be the only prescribers of medicines if the efforts to improve effectiveness of various antibiotics are to be realized.

The World Antibiotics Resistance Awareness Week is thus viewed as an essential part of the overall efforts being exerted to ensure sound healthcare service throughout the country. Controlling the entry of forged medicines in different ports of entries is part and parcel of the fight against such threat, said Mr. Mulugeta Russom, head of the National Pharmacovigilance Center.