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Global health faces rising threat by AMR

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By Mercy Kelani

AMR increases morbidity and mortality rates — clinical microbiologist.

Health experts recently disclosed that AntiMicrobial Resistance (AMR) is now regarded as one of the greatest threats to global health and that if left unaddressed, minor infections would begin to cause mortality and become almost impossible to treat. This revelation by experts happened at a virtual media roundtable set up by Pfizer, an American pharmaceutical legend, for creation of awareness about AMR and ensuring ongoing patients practice safety efforts for maintenance of the future efficiency of antibiotics.

A Professor of Clinical Microbiology at the College of Medicine of the University of Lagos (CMUL), Idi-Araba, Prof. Oyinlola Oduyebo (Miss), speaking at the virtual media roundtable discussion, stated that AMR is capable of increasing morbidity and mortality rates, and it is affiliated with high economic costs owing to its healthcare requirements. Antibiotics are very efficient in treating infections, however, their growing resistance to infections is making them lose their usefulness and efficiency so fast, she added.

Drug-resistant diseases kill at least 700,000 annually.

Proper intake of antibiotics by a patient kills the bacteria causing the infection and eradicates them from the body. However, when used inappropriately as an overdose, taken between too short or too long duration, taken in the absence of an infection or to treat the wrong infection, the bacteria adapt but do not die instantly. The microbiologist firmly asserted that they are capable of reproduction as they have varieties of resistance genes that can resist the infection.

AntiMicrobial Resistance (AMR) happens when bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites change with time and become unresponsive to medicines, making infections more difficult to treat. This unresponsiveness increases the risk of disease circulation, severe illness and even death. Antimicrobials, including antibiotics, antifungals, antivirals and antiparasitics, are medicines used for prevention and treatment of infections in humans, animals and plants. West Africa Pfizer Medical Director, Kodjo Soroh, also commented on the situation, asserting that a minimum of 700,000 people die annually of drug-resistant diseases.

Life-saving medical procedures bear greater risks.

According to the medical director, many common diseases like respiratory tract infections, urinary tract infections and sexually transmitted infections are resistant to treatment. Life-saving medical processes are bearing more risks, and food systems are increasingly unstable and insecure. Without proper medical action taken by governments, industry and societies, AMR is predicted to cause 10 million deaths annually by 2050 as too much use of antibiotics cause stronger germs. Bacteria’s resistance to common antibiotics makes infection treatment more expensive.

Mr. Soroh added that public health is seriously threatened by the inability to treat serious bacteria infections. Government and the public health community are required to work collaboratively with the pharmaceutical industry to device further actions and support measures that will foster continued innovation in the development of new antibiotics and vaccines that are designed to significantly reduce the spread of AMR. As a means of fighting resistance and ensuring protection of global health, Ms. Oduyebo advised adoption of AntiMicrobial Stewardship (AMS) programme.

One Health approach and AMS, necessary for addressing threat.

AMS, according to the clinical microbiologist, is an healthcare strategy that is system-wide and developed to foster promotion, improvement, monitoring and evaluation of the rational usage of antimicrobials for preservation of their future effectiveness and to promote and protect public health. The One Health approach, globally regarded as a holistic and multisectoral approach, is also necessary for tackling AMR’s growing threat. Practices, principles and intervention of AMS are crucial steps to containment and mitigation of AMR, Ms. Oduyebo affirmed.

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