The public has been advised to desist from buying unprescribed antimicrobials as there was a high level of resistance to them in the country.
Antimicrobials are therapeutic substances used to prevent or treat infections including antiseptics, antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals and antiparasitics.
The Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana (PSGH), which raised that alarm, said most antimicrobials had become ineffective in fighting off diseases due to abuse and misuse in the country, and that posed high risk to the citizenry.
“When you have cough, cold and sore throat, antibiotics should not be your first choice. Do not go to your doctor, pharmacist or over-the-counter (OTC) medicine seller demanding antibiotics for treatment of any infection.”
“The more we take these medicines without it being prescribed, the high resistance the microbes build and continue to spread making the drug impotent to treat a condition,” the president, Samuel Kow Donkoh, cautioned.
He was addressing a news conference to commemorate this year’s World Antimicrobial Resistance Awareness Week (WAAW) on the theme ‘Preventing antimicrobial resistance together.’
The occasion is to raise awareness of the risks posed by the inappropriate use of antimicrobial medicines in humans, animals and crops, and encourage their responsible use to reduce the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
Dr Donkoh said per drug regulation and standards, antimicrobials were not to be sold OTC and called for tighter regulations on medicines to prevent its sale in order to ensure public safety.
“Pharmacies are the only entities allowed to stock and dispense antimicrobials, and because the regulator cannot be everywhere at all times, if you see any OTC sell, dispense or stock these medicines, we encourage you to report to the Pharmacy Council for the needed action to be taken,” he urged.
“AMR undermines the efficacy of antimicrobials, the very essential tools we rely on to treat infections and safeguard public health and when they become less effective or entirely ineffective we face a grim prospect of routine medical procedures becoming life threatening and the once treatable infections transforming into persistent threat,” he said.
The Technical Officer for Antimicrobial Resistance at the World Health Organisation (WHO), Ghana Office, Dr George Kwesi Hodidor, said African countries continued to bear the highest burden of AMR-associated deaths with 99 deaths per 100,000 people.
He said in 2019, 1.27 million people died from AMR infections globally, more than HIV/AIDS and malaria combined.
Dr Hodidor said misuse and abuse of antimicrobial medicines, lack of access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene, poor infection prevention and control practices, inadequate use of vaccines to decrease infections, inadequate laboratory capacity including equipment and reagents to guide proper treatment, poor waste disposal practices, among others, gave rise to the threat.
He called for urgent action to address AMR, reaffirming the WHO’s commitment to working with stakeholders to nip the canker in the bud.
The Director of Pharmaceutical Services at the Ministry of Health, Dr Joycelyn Azeez, urged the media to use their platforms to encourage responsible antibiotics use, encouraging all of it to always complete prescribed medicines and not self-medicate to ensure health outcomes.