Poverty is fuelling antibiotics resistance in Nigeria, say health experts

*Federal and sub-national governments urged to institute free medical care for the poor

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

As striking poverty festers among several millions of Nigerians, thereby limiting access to quality healthcare, industry experts have raised alarm over the rising cases of antibiotic resistance in the country.

Akinjide Adeosun, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of St. Racheal’s Pharmaceutical Nigeria Limited, raised the alarm in Lagos at a media parley to mark 2020 World Antimicrobial Awareness week in Lagos.

The expert said in order to address antibiotic resistance, Nigeria needs to tackle poverty first.

Adeosun stated: “A patient who spends N381.75 per day on food and non-food cannot afford to buy a full dose of antibiotics worth N1, 000.”

He urged the Federal and sub-national governments to institute free medical care for the poor in their communities.

He added: “One percent of the profit of companies should be legislated to fund this scheme at the national level, and 1 percent tax from contractors at the sub-national governments.

“For it to be sustainable, I call on governments to make provision for free medical care in the annual budget.

“Federal government should set up HealthCare Bank to cater for the strategic needs of the health care Industry at Low-interest rate of 5 percent.”

The company executive further said “this will help the private sector to improve on the hard & soft infrastructures of the healthcare industry.

“Only an educated workforce with sound health can be productive, thereby leading to the prosperity of Nigeria.”

He urged Nigerians to stop self-medication, but buy and take the full dose of high quality antibiotics when prescribed by doctors & dispensed by pharmacists.

According to Adeosun, St. Racheal’s Pharma aims to improve life expectancy in Africa through a tri-growth strategy.

He noted: “Two years ago, we commenced a 20-year journey that will see us launch into many markets on the continent, expand our offering from our core base of Antimicrobials into brands that will supplement Life & brands that will prevent diseases.

“As we scale, we will build local manufacturing factories, we will list on the local & international stock exchanges.”

Dr. Bamidele Mutiu, Consultant Clinical Microbiologist, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), likewise attributed the increasing cases of antimicrobial resistance to misuse and overuse of antimicrobials in human, animal, and plants.

Mutiu said: “Lack of clean water and sanitation in healthcare facilities, farms, community settings and inadequate infection prevention and control promotes the emergence and spread of drug-resistant infections.”

Misuse of antibiotics during COVID-19 pandemic could lead to accelerated emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance, declared the Consultant Clinical Microbiologist.

He advised that physicians in their stewardship role must ensure optimal selection, dose and duration of an antibiotic resulting in the cure or prevention of infection with minimal unintended consequences to the patients, including the emergence of resistance, adverse drug events, and costs.

Dr. Tomi Coker, Honourable Commissioner for Health in Ogun State, while speaking on the theme, “United to Preserve Antimicrobials”, urged more advocacy to policymakers at national and sub-national levels.

The Commissioner challenged Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to engage the government on what they are doing concerning this antimicrobial issue in Nigeria.

Coker stated: “This is a silent killer issue, and if we did not tackle it on time, it may soon become a crisis.

“These superbugs are already taking an enormous toll on health-care systems around the world.

“About 700,000 people globally die each year due to antimicrobial resistance (AMR), without new and better treatments, that figure could rise to ten million by 2050.”

He disclosed that “inevitably, the more that antibiotics are used, the more that bacteria develop resistance rendering the drugs less effective and leading public health authorities worldwide to flag antibiotic resistance as an urgent and growing public health threat.”

Mrs. Adeola Alli, Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer, One Health Pharmacy, in her submission urged healthcare providers to not relent in ensuring that people have access to quality antimicrobial drugs.

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