World Antimicrobial Awareness Week launched in Koforidua

Health Antimicrobials Launch
Antimicrobials Launch

This year’s World Antimicrobial Awareness Week has been launched in Koforidua with a call on regulatory agencies to help fight the canker of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).

Research shows that without effective antimicrobials for the prevention and treatment of infections, medical procedures such as organ transplantation, cancer chemotherapy, diabetes management and major surgeries become high risk endeavours.

Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, the Minister of Health, in a speech read on his behalf at the launch, said: “We must ensure that the public comply with the protocols regarding the use of antimicrobials or antibiotics such as using the drug on prescription only and not purchase anywhere or from hawkers who ply their trade at lorry stations and other public spaces.”

“The cost of healthcare for patients with resistant infections is higher than care for patients with non-resident infections due to longer duration of illness, additional tests and use of more expensive drugs,” he said.

The Health Ministry, in collaboration with Ministries of Agriculture, Science and Technology; Fisheries and Aquaculture and allied stakeholders had initiated the Action on Antibiotic/Antimicrobials Resistance (ReAct).

The allied stakeholders include the World Health Organisation (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), and the World Organisation for Animal Health. (OIE).

The combined team have systematically led the development and launch of the policy and antimicrobial use and resistance and the National Action Plan (NAP) based on the global action plan with a monitoring and evaluation mechanism.

Mr Agyeman-Manu said four years into the implementation of NAP, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and FAO established farmer field schools to promote responsible use of Antimicrobials in farm animals.

It also sought to change the behaviour of farmers on the use of Antimicrobials for animals and fish as growth promoters.

Antibiotic resistance occurs naturally over time, usually through genetic changes, however, misuse and overuse of antibiotics in both humans and animals is accelerating the process.

In many instances, antibiotics are taken or given without any expert advice such as taking it for viral infections such as colds and giving it to animals as growth promoters.

The 2021 Antimicrobial Awareness Week is on the theme: “Spread Awareness, Stop Resistance.”

Activities lined up for the weeklong celebration include an awareness campaign in churches, mosques and education on media platforms as well as training of health reporters and a symposium.

Dr Sofonias Asrat, the Leader of Health Systems at the Ghana Office of the WHO, said Africa contributed to a significantly high level of communicable diseases that required the use of antibiotics.

He said the impact of antimicrobial resistance was likely to be greater on the continent than any other, hence the necessity for all stakeholders to get together to raise awareness and strengthen systems to check regulation and compliance of the rules guiding the use of antibiotics.

He pledged WHO’s unflinching support to ensure the desired results were achieved.

Mr Samuel Donkor, a representative of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana, called on all health professionals to take up the awareness creation on AMR as a professional responsibility and advocate for the responsible use of antimicrobials.

He urged them to adhere to the Ministry of Health’s guidelines on the use of antimicrobials, including the treatment of infections.

A 13-member Eastern Regional AMR Technical Working Group was inaugurated by the Regional Minister, Mr Seth Kwame Acheampong.

He reiterated the need to improve on the education and sensitisation of the public to stop the misuse of antibiotics, described as “live savior” in the medical space.

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