Impose strict restrictions on antibiotics in Ghana – KNUST Lecturer
A Senior Lecturer at the School of Medicine and Dentistry of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Dr. Yaw A. Amoako, has called for a strict restriction on the sale and use of antibiotics in the country.
He said imposing strict restrictions on the sale and use of the medicine could help to prevent abuse of antibiotics use in the country, which he described as a major threat to public health.
“There should be restrictions on antibiotics,” he said, adding antibiotics should only be used when needed after appropriate tests.”
Dr. Amoako, who is a senior specialist of infectious diseases and research scientist at the Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research in Tropical Medicine (KCCR), was speaking at a virtual media roundtable organised by Pfizer Pharmaceuticals on Thursday, August 24, 2023, to raise awareness on antibiotics so as to ensure patient safety and maintain the future effectiveness of antibiotics.
He noted that the cost of antibiotics abuse was dire, considering its health implications and socio-economic impacts on society.
He expressed the concern that many people had resorted to the use of antibiotics when they ought not to, stressing that the abuse of antibiotics “increases the length of stay of patients at the hospital.”
Antimicrobial resistance (abuse of antibiotics) 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.
For Dr. Amoako, the threat of antimicrobial resistance should be addressed with all seriousness since it could result even in deaths.
He cautioned the public to desist from the abuse of antibiotics, urging the national Pharmacy Council to be strict on how such medicines are dispensed by over-the-counter outlets.
He expressed the concern that many antibiotics medicines are not properly stored and handled in many parts of the country, citing an example that one could even find antibiotics at market places.
Dr. Amoako stressed that considering the dire health implications of antibiotics abuse, there was the need to adopt multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary approaches in fighting it.
He has, therefore, called on all stakeholders, particularly the media to help create awareness on the subject in order for people to get well-informed on the dangers of antibiotics abuse.
The roundtable was intended to discuss the need for antimicrobial stewardship as treatment of infections are becoming more difficult due to widespread emergence of antimicrobial resistance.
It is Pfizer’s position is that governments and the public health community will work together with industry to take further action and support measures that will enable continued innovation in the development of new antibiotics and vaccines to help curb the spread of antimicrobial resistance.
For his part, Professor Kwame Ohene Buabeng, a Clinical Pharmacologist at the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Health Sciences, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), also reiterated the position that antibiotics should only be used when patients have gone through appropriate diagnosis.
He has, therefore, charged medicine sellers, particularly over-the-counter outlets not sell antibiotics to people without prescriptions from recognised health facilities or certified pharmacists.
Prof. Buabenf, who is also the Vice Dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (KNUST) Kumasi and the Vice President of the Ghana College of Pharmacists (GCPharm), said the rate of abuse of antibiotics in the country could be likened to the menace of illegal mining.
He said the practice was widespread and needed urgent actions to tackle it, pointing out that the manner in which some antibiotics are stored and handled pose major challenge to people’s health.
Prof. Buabeng who is also the Deputy Chair of the Multi-Sectoral, Multi-Stakeholder Coordinating platform on Antimicrobial Resistance in Ghana, and a Member of the National Medicines Selection Committee for the Development of Standard Treatment Guidelines (STG) and Essential Medicines List (EML), noted that there was the need to intensify education and awareness creation on antibiotics abuse in the country.