The Minister of Health, Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, has directed the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), the Pharmacy Council and the Traditional and Alternative Medicine Council (TAMC) to take urgent steps to stop the activities of unqualified persons who sell anti-microbials to unsuspecting members of the public.
He also asked health workers who did not have the mandate to prescribe or dispense antibiotics to desist from that practice.
In a speech delivered on his behalf at the launch of the World Antibiotic Awareness Week (WAAW) in Accra yesterday, he also stressed the need for a clamp down on the activities of unauthorised suppliers of antibiotics, especially hawkers.
He said indiscriminate use of antibiotics endangered lives and affected efforts to achieve the sustainable development goal (SDG) on access to quality health care.
The minister’s speech was read by the Director of Policy Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (PPME) at the Ministry of Health, Dr Emmanuel Ankrah Odame.
The launch of the week-long event was attended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Representative, Dr Owen-Laws Kaluwa, and officials of other organisations such as the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana (PSGH), Hope for Future Generation (HFFG) and the Veterinary Department of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.
The WAAW is held in November every year to create awareness of anti-microbial resistance (AMR) and the need for all stakeholders to collaborate to deal with it.
Anti-microbial resistance occurs when bacteria are no longer affected by the antibiotics they were previously susceptible to or when micro-organisms such as bacteria, viruses and some parasites stop the antimicrobials from working against them.
The resistant bacteria which infect humans and animals become more difficult to treat than the non-resistant ones.
It is estimated that 70 per cent of the AMR affects animals, while 30 per cent affects humans.
Irresponsible use of antibiotics, including wrong prescriptions, inappropriate self-medication and over-the-counter sale of antibiotics from unlicensed and unapproved outlets have been identified as the major causes of AMR.
To address the situation, the Ghana National AMR Policy and the National Action Plan (NAP) documents were launched in April this year.
In the speech to launch this year’s AMR Week, Mr Agyeman-Manu underscored the need for regulators to put their act together to weed out practices that fueled AMR.
He called on members of the public to be cautious when patronising antibiotics.
“Members of the public should not demand antibiotics from health workers based on information obtained from the Internet; they should rather seek advice from health professionals for appropriate action,” he added.
Dr Owen-Laws Kaluwa, for his part, called for effective collaboration among all stakeholders at the national and continental levels to deal with the impact of AMR on the health of people.
He said antibiotics ought to be used advisedly, adding that “all hospitals and community health centres should strive to control the spread of infections by making the best hygiene and sanitation measures available”.
Dr Kaluwa also called for increased investment by the government, funding agencies and the private sector to implement actions that would ensure that there was safe and secure medicine across generations.
He also called for more research to be done to find innovative ways to deal with AMR.