By Aminu Shehu Karaye
You wake up at midnight with a running stomach, all sweating and with a terrible headache. You surrendered that it was typhoid and, of course, opened the first aid shelf and brought out some drugs to take. It was amoxicillin for typhoid and tetracycline for the running stomach. But you remembered that every Nigerian has got some malaria, so you brought out the artemether and took it also. However, are you aware of antimicrobic resistance?
Even among the literate, only a few understand the effects and dangers posed by antibiotic resistance. Especially in Nigeria, where awareness is low, the magnitude of antibiotic resistance is expected to increase considerably over the coming years due to excessive use of antibiotics and other practices that are said to trigger antimicrobial resistance.
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a general term used to describe the ability of microorganisms, including those that cause diseases (pathogens), to resist the effects of drugs that were once used to kill them or slow their activities. AMR is a worldwide concern and should be taken with all seriousness. The UN ad hoc interagency coordinating group on antimicrobial resistance warns that if action is not taken, drug-resistant diseases could cause 10 million deaths annually by 2050 and damage the economy, similar to the 2008-2009 global financial crisis.
Also, by 2030, AMR could force up to 24 million people into extreme poverty. The World Health Organization identified misuse and overuse of antimicrobials; lack of access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) for both humans and animals; low-grade infection and disease prevention and control in healthcare facilities and farms; lack of access to quality, affordable medicines, vaccines, and diagnosis; lack of awareness and knowledge and lack of enforcement of legislation as the major drivers of AMR (WHO, 2021).
In Nigeria, people get antibiotics over the counter without a prescription from the appropriate specialist. An individual would take an antibiotic when he has a running stomach or even a mild headache. The misuse of antibiotics is one of the biggest causes of antibiotic resistance.
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria can also be transferred from animals to humans and vice-versa. Poultry is one of the leading industries that harbours these resistant bacteria. Due to our everyday association with poultry animals, we will likely get these bacteria into our bodies. Many other ways exist in which AMR can be established. However, it is our responsibility to curb this menace as we are the ones in danger!
Curbing the menace of AMR is everyone’s business. No matter how careful you are with antibiotics, you might buy and consume a chicken grown with antibiotics as a growth promoter, which will surely trigger resistance. Therefore, from farmers to healthcare workers to everyone else, we must all play our parts to control antimicrobial resistance.
In Nigeria, there is a need for appropriate bodies and the government to educate the masses and warn them about the dangers of antibiotic misuse. The government should also ban selling antibiotics over the counter, without doctors’ prescription, and see that previous restrictions on antibiotics are implemented.
No action today, no cure tomorrow!
Aminu Shehu Karaye wrote this article via email@example.com.