A medical sociologist and research fellow at the Kintampo Health Research Centre (KHRC), Samuel Afari-Asiedu, has expressed concern over the high inappropriate use of antibiotics in rural communities, which is leading to antimicrobial resistance in the country.
He has, therefore, called on the Pharmacy Council and other stakeholders to consider training sellers in the communities in the appropriate dispensing of antibiotics to optimise their use.
Antimicrobial resistance is the situation where antimicrobial medicines are unable to treat certain diseases. It occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change characteristics (mutate) over time and no longer respond to medicines, making infections harder to treat and increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death.
Mr Afari-Asiedu was speaking during an interaction with a team of health journalists who are members of the African Media and Malaria Research Network (AMMREN) at the KHRC in the Bono East Region.
The journalists were at the centre to familiarise themselves with its operations.
He said a study conducted by the KHRC in the Kintampo North and South districts in 2016 found out that about 86 per cent of the population were engaged in inappropriate use of antibiotics.
According to Mr Afari-Asiedu, antimicrobial resistance was one of the top 10 threats to global public health, adding that the menace was increasingly becoming a big challenge in low and middle-income countries due to easy accessibility to antibiotics at the community level.
He said even though antibiotics were not supposed to be sold over-the-counter by drug sellers, the dealers were not adhering to that.
The research fellow said the long distances people had to travel to access health care and ignorance about antibiotics were partly to blame for the abuse.
Significance of Centre
Mr Afari-Asiedu said findings from the centre's studies were always communicated to the relevant state institutions to help inform policies, as well as guide effective public health education in the country.
He said the research team from the KHRC had engaged the leadership of the association of over-the-counter services, the Pharmacy Council, as well as district and regional health directorates, to help address the situation.
Established in 1994, the KHRC is one of the three health research centres of the Research and Development Division (RDD) of the Ghana Health Service.
It offers a unique platform for the conduct of public health and biomedical research that influences policy direction and programme implementation to improve well-being and reduce ill health in the country and beyond.
The centre has also taken part in many major clinical health researches and vaccine trials in the country and internationally, leading to the adoption of many policies.