Speakers at the launch of this year’s World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) in Accra yesterday said all hands were needed on deck in a one health approach to protect and preserve antimicrobials.
They also urged healthcare practitioners to intensify the practice of infection prevention control measures to reduce the incidence of infections.
Antimicrobials are substances that kill microorganisms such as bacteria or mold, or stops them from growing and causing disease.
Themed “Preventing Antimicrobial Resistance Together,” WAAW is aimed at creating awareness on the emergence and increase spread of Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR) for health stakeholders, policy makers and individuals to employ measures to curb the resistance.
AMR according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change overtime and no longer respond to antimicrobial medicines making infections harder to treat and increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death.
Launching the WAAW, the Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu in a speech read on his behalf by his deputy Mahama Asei Seini said several research findings called for collective efforts from all stakeholders if the country wanted to win the battle against AMR.
As such, he urged all to be united in the fight in preserving AMRs as there was still a long way to go in spreading the message, adding that “education of the masses through durbars and media sensitisation will help move this agenda forward.”
Mr Agyeman-Manu said that failing to practise infection prevention and control measures as healthca re providers could increase the probability of transferring resistant bacteria to various homes and the community at large.
Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), Dr Kwaku Afriyie, reiterated the need for sensitisation on the menace to be intensified for better understanding of the issues and particularly on the need for people to know that antibiotics were not needed if they had not been prescribed for them.
He emphasised that the country needed to contribute to world’s knowledge on AMR and not remain a recipient of knowledge transferred.
Mr Kwabena Offei Asante, Vice President, Pharmaceutical Society Ghana (PSGH) advised the populace not to force healthcare professionals to prescribe antimicrobials when they have indicated that they do not need them.
“We advise the public to seek advice from a pharmacist or qualified healthcare professional before taking medicines, especially antibiotics, observe the hand washing and hygiene protocols as this prevents infections or reduces risk of infections,” he added.
Mr Asante also urged healthcare professionals to advocate for the responsible use of antimicrobial medicines as well as adhere to antimicrobial stewardship protocols in hospitals and clinics and other health facilities.
“Where such protocolsdo not exist, appropriate antimicrobial stewardship programmes must be designed, adapted and adopted as appropriate to the particular setting,” he added.
Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, Director General, Ghana Health Service, in a statement read on his behalf underscored that antimicrobial stewardship had been identified as a critical component of combating AMR as controlling AMR was impossible without effective surveillance of antimicrobial use (AMU).
“I am also pleased to report that a greater number of public health institutions in Ghana are now developing and implementing Antibiotic Stewardship Programmes,” he added.
BY ABIGAIL ARTHUR & CHARITY ASUKA