BY CHIKA OKEKE, Abuja
As Nigeria joins the global community to commemorate the 2023 World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW), the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) has disclosed that over 99.5 per cent of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) related deaths are among children under five years.
The Director- General of NCDC, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa stated this on Monday in Abuja at the National Flag-off of WAAW activities with the theme: “Preventing Antimicrobial Resistance Together.”
WAAW is a national campaign celebrated annually to improve awareness and understanding of AMR and encourage best practices among the public, One Health stakeholders and policymakers that play a critical role in reducing the emergence and spread of AMR.
Adetifa stated that every year, AMR causes over 1. 27 million deaths especially in Low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) including Nigeria that accounts for nearly 90 per cent of the direct death toll.
The DG said that recent studies revealed that more people die directly from AMR than HIV/AIDS, malaria, or any form of cancer other than lung cancer.
He noted that the burden of death attributed to AMR was pegged at 27.3 deaths per 100,000 deaths, being the highest in West Africa, thereby making it a super region for death due to drug-resistant pathogens.
The World Health Organization (WHO) had revealed that there are 15 priority antibiotic-resistant pathogens that threatens human and animal health, and four of them were detected in Nigeria.
Adetifa informed that the impact of AMR on the economy, health systems and attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is enormous, adding that $100 trillion of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) could be lost by 2050 due to AMR.
“Antimicrobial agents are essential for food security and the global consumption of antimicrobials is projected to rise by 70 percent by 2030 and will affect sustainable food production systems if nothing is done.
“Since 2017, Nigeria has made strides in its response to AMR. Led by NCDC in collaboration with the tripartite sectors, there is now an AMR surveillance network, antimicrobial stewardship, and awareness programmes among healthcare professionals, farmers and the public across the country.
“Fulfilling its commitment as agreed at the Third Global High-level Ministerial Conference on AMR in Muscat, Oman, Nigeria is currently finalising its second National Action Plan for AMR (NAP 2.0) in collaboration with all relevant stakeholders to determine required finances, applicable milestones, and national targets, including the Sustainable Development Goal indicators on AMR in the human health sector, and adopting a One Health approach,’ he added.
In a bid to curb the AMR, Nigeria had inaugurated the National One Health Steering Committee co-chaired by ministers from all relevant One Health stakeholders.
Currently, there are four line ministries implementing the one health agenda such as Federal Ministries of Agriculture and Food Security, Environment, Water Resources, and Health and Social Welfare.
Other achievements are inclusion of more stakeholders in the AMR technical working group for better collaboration, deployment of national Community of Practice for stakeholders in the AMR response space, expansion of AMR surveillance sites in Nigeria in the human, animal and environmental sectors, likewise the establishment of a national antimicrobial stewardship programme.
The DG informed that during the Joint external evaluation of international health regulation core capacities in Nigeria earlier in the year, AMR was rated as having scored an average of 2.4 points out of five, indicating that more action is required to combat the menace.
He stated that annually, the National Antimicrobial Resistance Technical Working Group (AMR-TWG) joined the global community to raise awareness of the dangers of misuse or overuse of antimicrobials and the need to preserve the efficacy of the critical medicines.
Adetifa disclosed that fighting AMR is a global endeavour that must be addressed through a One Health approach, adding that all sectors must join forces to curb the menace and encourage the prudent use of antimicrobials and preventive measures.
He urged Nigerians to handle antimicrobials with care by seeking professional consultation to conduct a laboratory test to guide the use of antibiotics and other antimicrobial agents such as antimalarials.
The DG emphasised the need to complete a dose of antibiotics as prescribed by a licensed health worker or veterinarian in the case of use on animals.
He pointed out that farmers must observe withdrawal periods for animals of food origin before slaughtering.
Adetifa listed other advice for safe handling of antimicrobials as to avoid sharing or using leftover antibiotics, disposing leftover antibiotics properly, practicing hand hygiene and environmental sanitation consistently and proper vaccination of adults, children, and animals.
He assured that the Federal Government remains committed to contributing to the global response to AMR and sustaining advocacy towards the responsible use of antimicrobials.
Antibiotics are widely used for the treatment of infections in humans and animals but misuse leads to AMR, whereby the drugs are ineffective against disease pathogens.
Oh her part, Deputy Director of Research and Monitoring department, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) Dr Fatimah Jajere said that the agency is part of the development of national action plan on AMR.
She assured that NACA would give maximum cooperation for the success of AMR programmes in Nigeria.
BY CHIKA OKEKE, Abuja