World Antibiotics Week: Stakeholders organize awareness walk

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Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) on Monday organised a walk to mark World Antibiotics Awareness Week (WAAW).

The Director General of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the walk was to raise awareness about the threat of antibiotics resistance and the importance of appropriate antibiotics prescription.

The awareness walk was carried out in partnership with Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), Federal Ministry of Environment (FMOE), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other stakeholders.

WAAW is marked yearly in November to increase global awareness of antibiotics resistance and to encourage best practices among stakeholders to avoid further spread of antibiotics resistance.

The annual event set aside by WHO is to create global awareness of antibiotics resistance toward promoting behavioural change and rational use of antibiotics.

The 2019 theme is “The Future of Antibiotics Depends on All of Us”.

The NCDC director-general said many reasons accounted for the increasing spread of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).

He said the misuse and abuse of antimicrobial drugs in the medical and agricultural sectors was rapidly worsening the development and spread of AMR.

Ihekweazu added that whenever antibiotics were used, they could cause side effects and lead to antibiotic resistance, which he described as
one of the most urgent threats to public health.

He noted other factors that led to poor infection control practice like the lack of good hygiene, especially, appropriate hand washing practices and the lack of new antibiotics being developed.

He added that the commemoration of the Day was a perfect time for Nigerians to become antibiotics guardians, and to only use antibiotics when necessary.

The NDCD boss explained that the centre was committed to its role as the national secretariat for AMR surveillance in Nigeria.

He assured that the NCDC was collaborating with key private sector and civil society organisations to raise awareness on misuse of antibiotics in the country.

He said “more than ever, there is a strong need for stakeholders to work together to advocate for proper procurement and responsible use of antimicrobials.”

He announced that as part of the global commemoration, NCDC and partners were inviting Nigerians to participate in the National Antibiotics Awareness
Week from Nov. 18 to Nov. 24, 2019.

He noted that the walk was to raise awareness on the threats from antibiotic resistance, and to encourage best practices among key audiences: the public, health workers and policy makers.

A global action plan to tackle the growing problem of resistance to antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines was endorsed at the 68th World Health Assembly in May 2015.

A 2014 review on AMR commissioned by the United Kingdom Government with the final report published in 2016, predicted that there will be as many as 10 million deaths annually by 2050, with failure to address this issue.

This is higher than predictions for cancer at 8,200,000, resulting in infections accounting for 40 percent of deaths up from 7 percent.

Furthermore, the estimated cumulative economic cost is around 100 trillion USD.

Presently, 700,000 deaths occur annually due to resistant infections according to the WHO.

AMR is now on the list of the WHO’s top 10 threats to global health and urgent coordinated actions involving everyone is needed to combat it.

Bilkisu Pai