Health practitioners warn against increased drug resistance cases

Drug Resistance

A sample of drugs prescribed for a patient. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Health care practitioners in the country have warned that drug resistance, also known as antimicrobial resistance (AMR), is fast becoming a threat to global health.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, antimicrobial resistance happens when germs like bacteria and fungi develop the ability to defeat the drugs designed to kill them.

This makes infectious diseases more difficult to treat, leading to an increased likelihood of the disease spreading, prolonged illness, disability and even death.

Dr Jacob Shabani, head of the family medicine department at Aga Khan University Hospital, said there was a greater need to support and promote vaccine development because of how effective it is in preventing antimicrobial resistance.

“There is increased need to support and encourage the development of vaccines as they are valuable in combating Antimicrobial Resistance incidences. Research institutions responsible for vaccine research, international medical organisations and national governments need to appreciate and acknowledge that investment in vaccines will play a significant role in the reduction of AMR,” said Dr Shabani.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared AMR as one of humanity's top 10 global health threats.

Misuse and overuse of antimicrobials are the main drivers in developing drug-resistant pathogens.

The world health body recommends three priority actions to be considered by stakeholders in the fields of immunisation, including expanding the use of licensed vaccines to maximise impact on AMR, developing new vaccines that contribute to the prevention, and control of AMR and sharing knowledge on the impact of vaccines on AMR.

Antimicrobials, which include antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals, and antiparasitic drugs, are used to treat human infections. Their misuse and overuse are the primary contributors to drug resistance, increasing morbidity, disability, mortality, and financial ruin.

Senior medical manager Pfizer, Eva Njagua, says researchers and manufacturers need to be offered appropriate incentives for research and enabled to have a greater and collective impact on AMR.

“Researchers and manufacturers need to be offered appropriate incentives for research and be enabled to have a greater and collective impact on AMR. In cases where prospects for wholesale investments are limited due to market constraints, partnerships should be encouraged within the context of national health and medicine policies,”said Dr Njagua.

The World Bank projects that Antimicrobial Resistance will account for more than a 3 per cent reduction in Gross Domestic Product globally by 2050 if interventions are not implemented as soon as possible.

Antimicrobial resistance is an urgent global public health threat, killing at least 1.27 million people worldwide and associated with nearly 5 million deaths in 2019.

In the US, more than 2.8 million antimicrobial-resistant infections occur each year.

CDC says that antimicrobial resistance has the potential to affect people at any stage of life, as well as the healthcare, veterinary, and agriculture industries. This makes it one of the world’s most urgent public health problems.