Health News of Friday, 24 April 2015

Source: Graphic.com.gh

Stop misusing antibiotics - Public cautioned

The public has been cautioned to desist from misusing antibiotics, since that could be harmful to their health.

Antibiotics, also known as antibacterials, are types of medications that destroy or slow down the growth of bacteria, but according to a lecturer at the Department of Microbiology at the University of Ghana, Professor Mercy Newman, most antibiotics were not effective because bacteria-causing diseases had developed some resistance to them.

Prof. Newman, who was speaking at a media dissemination workshop on antimicrobial resistance in Accra yesterday, said the situation was not serious in Ghana only, as it was a worldwide canker.

The workshop was on the theme, “Managing antimicrobial resistance in Ghana: The Role of The Media”.

Termed, “antimicrobial resistance (AMR)”, Prof. Newman said the new bacteria resistance threatened the effective prevention and treatment of an ever-increasing range of infections caused by bacteria, parasites and fungi.

“Therefore, the more you use antibiotics, the more you select for the resistance strain. So if the bacteria number a million and all of a sudden you are using antibiotics, one or two of these bacteria will become resistant and as such start multiplying very fast and before you know it the resistant one has taken over or the antibiotic will kill the sensitive ones and the resistant ones will continue to grow,” she said. WHO findings

Citing a 2014 World Health Organisation (WHO) report on AMR, Prof. Newman said the resistance to common bacteria had reached alarming levels in many parts of the world and that in some settings, few, if any, of the available treatment options remained effective for common infections.

Another important finding of the report, she said, was that surveillance on antibacterial resistance was neither coordinated nor harmonised and as such there were many gaps in information on bacteria.

Change behaviour

She, therefore, called for a change in behaviour over the consumption of antibiotics, both from doctors who prescribed them and the public who consumed them.

She also called for proper diagnosis of illnesses in patients before prescribing them antibiotics.

That, she said, would help reduce the unnecessary use of antibiotics and also increase the lifespan of the good quality antibiotics left in the system.

Enforce laws

The Director of Special Medicines at the WHO Office in Ghana, Mrs Edith Andrew-Annan, gave a global perspective of AMR and stressed the need for laws governing the manufacturing, distribution and sale of medicine in the country to be enforced.

She noted that at present people were able to access pharmacies and buy medicines without prescription, a situation she described as illegal.

Mrs Andrew-Annan also said most antibiotics were sold in the open and under the mercy of the weather, pointing out that that usually destroyed the active agents in the medicines.

The Programme Officer of the Ghana National Drugs Programme of the Ministry of Health, Mr Brain Adu Asare, said as part of policy interventions to curb the situation, the Ministry of Health was putting together a comprehensive policy on AMR that would look at some key areas such as infection, prevention and control, both at the hospital level and in the communities.