This year’s World Antibiotic Awareness Week has been launched in Accra.
World Antibiotic Awareness Week 2017 is being observed on the theme: “Seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional before taking antibiotics.”
Antibiotics are medicines used to prevent and treat bacterial infections; but resistance occurs when these medicines are no longer effective against the bacteria.
Speaking at the launch, a Deputy Minister for Health, Kingsley Aboagye Gyedu, warned of antimicrobial resistance as a health security threat if the abuse of antibiotics was not checked.
Mr Gyedu said new resistance mechanisms emerging and spreading globally were threatening the ability to treat common infectious diseases.
He noted that the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance was made worse as people could buy antibiotics without professional advice, adding that that without urgent action, there would be a post-antibiotic era in which common infections and minor injuries could, once again, kill.
He said resistance was not a country phenomenon but a regional and global threat which, he noted, was rising to dangerously high levels in all parts of the world.
“A growing list of infections such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, blood poisoning, gonorrhea, and food-borne diseases are becoming harder and, sometimes, impossible to treat as antibiotics become less effective,” Mr Gyedu emphasized, adding that the consequences antimicrobial resistance were dire for the nation’s National Health Insurance Scheme.
He disclosed that government had created a platform of key stakeholders as part of efforts to champion the agenda of controlling and containing resistance.
In a statement, the Country Representative of the World Health Organization, Dr Owen Kaluwa, described antimicrobial resistance and the rate at which it was rising as the biggest threat to global health and development today.
“From being miracle life-savers, antibiotics are becoming ineffective. Antibiotics resistant infection can affect anyone, of any age and in any country. Nothing less than global health security is at stake when antibiotics are misused,” he emphasized.
Dr Kaluwa expressed regrets that Africa lacked adequate data to clearly grasp the scope and scale of the problem.
He, however, gave the assurance that WHO in the Africa Region had made the fight against antibiotics resistance a top health priority and was working with countries to implement the Regional Emergency and Security Strategy.