The Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana (PSGH) has called for urgent antimicrobial management and use action, saying the response must be swift, coordinated, and unwavering.
In an address to commemorate the 2023 World AMR Awareness week, Dr. Samuel Kow Donkoh, President of the PSGH, said the event provided a unique opportunity to reflect on the critical problem of AMR and its profound impact on health, economies, and the very fabric of our societies.
Dr Donkoh said a major contributor to AMR was the indiscriminate and excessive use of antibiotics in human health care, animal husbandry, amd food production, among others.
It is estimated that if the use of antimicrobials in health systems are not efficiently controlled and drug resistant microbes continue to spread, AMR related illnesses could account for a staggering 10 million deaths worldwide by the year 2050.
“As we commemorate the 2023 World AMR Awareness Week, let us remember that the choices we make today will shape the health and well-being of generations to come,” he said.
According to the Global Research on Antimicrobial Resistance (GRAM) report, in 2019 alone, an estimated 1.27 million lives were claimed directly by drug-resistant infections.
Africa has the world’s highest mortality rate from AMR related infections, resulting in over 27 deaths per 100,000.
He called on Ghana to have one voice with all stakeholders to ensure a real call to action before the 2030 SDG timelines as the world gears up to the United Nations high level meeting (UNGA) on AMR in 2024.
Dr Donkoh called on all policymakers in the AMR space, health professionals, pharmacy regulatory agencies, and the public to join forces in the fight against antimicrobial resistance.
“Our collective action is crucial to stem the tide to contain the development and spread of AMR. As the leaders entrusted with shaping health and development policies, policymakers must prioritize and invest in initiatives that promote responsible antimicrobial use, surveillance, and research,” he said.
Also, the MOH, MESTI, MOFA, MOFAD and related agencies should ensure the full action of the reviewed National Policy on Antimicrobial Use and Resistance and its attendant Action Plan, to make it a timely document to support full implementation.
Dr Donkoh urged one-health professionals, including pharmacists, to play a pivotal role on the front lines of this battle, upholding the principles of antimicrobial stewardship, educating colleague pharmacists and other health professionals and the general public on the proper use of antimicrobials, and advocating for evidence-based practices to improve outcomes of individuals sick with microbial infections.
“We call on government to support the AMR Platform and all relevant institutions to improve surveillance of AMR and other initiatives in the national action plan with strong regulatory and legal framework,” he said.
Also, the Pharmacy Council and Food and Drugs Authority must ensure that antimicrobial agents like antibiotics are well regulated and accessible to those who have prescription or allowed to stock and dispense while over the Counter Medicines Sellers should immediately stop the illegal stocking of antibiotics as this is prohibited by law.
“We also ask Government to start the preparations by convening a national dialogue to brainstorm what messages need to fit into the African Union roadmap towards the UNGA 2024. Key areas on Governance, Financing and Evaluation of National Action Plans, and data require thinking through as a country,” Dr Donkoh added.
On the economic front, AMR is projected to account for a loss of 3.8% of the world’s annual gross domestic product (GDP) and by 2030, the GDP shortfall due to AMR could amount to about US$3.4 trillion per year.
Dr Donkoh said the theme for this year’s WAAW is, ”Preventing Antimicrobial Resistance Together,” which underscored the collective responsibility to addressing the global challenge.
“AMR knows no borders. It is a threat that transcends nationalities, demographics, and socio-economic status.”
When these antimicrobials become less effective or entirely ineffective, we face the grim prospect of routine medical procedures becoming life-threatening, and the once-treatable infections transforming into persistent threats.
Moreover, the increased healthcare cost associated with prolonged treatments of non-responsive drug resistant infections, loss of productivity due to illness, and the potential disruptions to food production systems amplify the economic burden of AMR, Dr Donkoh added.