In this piece, Joyce Remi- Babayeju reports that although antibiotic is used globally for the treatment of infectious diseases, recently the Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria, AMLSCN, has warned Nigerians on the dangers of misuse of Antibiotic and resistance which could lead to damage to some organs as well as cause economic consequences.

THE ASSOCIATION of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria, AMLSCN, during the commemoration of the 2017 World Biomedical Science Day on Saturday had warned Nigerians of the newly discovered dangers inherent in misuse of some common antibiotic drugs which is used in Nigeria and for the treatment of infectious diseases especially those related to bacterial, viral and fungal diseases. The President of AMLSCN, Toyosi Raheem at a press conference to mark the occasion in Abuja last Saturday had warned Nigerians on the dangers in the wrong use of antibiotic in whatever form and antibiotic resistance to most re-emerging diseases like meningitis, Lassa fever, Tuberculosis etc in the country. Raheem who disclosed that the theme of this year’s celebration of the WBLSD is focussed on Antibiotic Resistance under the theme ‘’Antibiotic Resistance: Biomedical Laboratory Scientists respond to the Global Threat’’ is as a result of the threat of antibiotics resistance in the treatment of common infectious diseases which used to be effective. In a press briefing ahead of the day in Abuja, the association noted that the use of antibiotics by Nigerians and even globally is done mostly in ignorance and sometimes without proper diagnosis which has proven to result in adverse health implications such as damage to some parts of the body. He said that antibiotic threat is now a global phenomenon that calls for urgent sensitization of its general usage by people. The association warned on the dangers of misuse of antibiotics which often results in damage of the liver, kidney and hearing loss if used unregulated, adding that factors like poverty, ignorance, weak regulation in Nigeria and some countries is the reason for the many dangers arising from misuse of antibiotics. Other dangers pertaining to misuse of antibiotics the association listed include wastage of drugs because antibiotics are used just when it is not necessary and that amounts to wastage of drugs which leads to damaged organs in the systems of the body because some of these antibiotics have toxins that affects some organs of the body. Medical Laboratory Scientists stressed that it is also worrisome that globally there is antibiotic drug resistance in treatment of tuberculosis, meningitis and some viral infections as a result of the menace of misuse the drug. Raheem said that because of ignorance on the part of the community antibiotics are abused, and misused thereby resulting in so many economic losses like loss of man – hour and prolonged illness and so there is the need to sensitize the people on the danger of misuse of this drug. ‘’No doubt, due to poverty, ignorance and weak regulations in the various health practices, there has been use, misuse and abuse of antibiotics in our various communities especially in Nigeria’’, he said. ‘’ The danger arising from this range from wastage of drugs (antibiotics), development of side effects some of which include damage to organs and systems, development of resistance by the microorganisms, prolonged hospital visits/ admissions due to treatment failures and complications, loss of avoidable man-hours or economically productive hours amongst others. You will agree with us that these are global threats to human health and productivity. The uncontrolled use and misuse of antibiotics in animals’ feeds and poultry has further worsened the menace of antibiotic resistance.’’ He said that with the current re-emergence of meningitis and other viral diseases like Ebola and Lassa fever which frequents the country there is need for faster diagnosis and chemotherapy and especially the rational use of antibiotic for treatment of these types of infections. The AMLSCN president said that the situation is worst with new strains in epidemic outbreaks as experienced in the country. He noted that that already Nigeria is battling with emerging drug resistance in HIV, Tuberculosis, malaria, diarrhoea and other enteric diseases. ‘’As a responsible professional association, we need to decisively respond to the threatsadvocacy, proper and faster methods for detecting infectious agents and their susceptibility testing.’’ AMLSN advocated for priority to curb the spreading menace of antibiotic resistance through its members. ‘’We should always remember the WHO Concept of quality healthcare that places the patient at the centre of the circle with all the health professionals looking at the patient and thinking of how best to serve the patients with the best professional services possible. ‘’This should be the priority of all Medical Laboratory Scientists in Nigeria, especially in engaging in advocacy on antibiotic resistance and the threats there from.’’ Since the discovery of penicillin in the 1940s, scientists from many countries have developed more than 150 different antibiotics to help stop the spread of infections. This is the beginning of the manufacturing of different types of antibiotics for treatment of different infectious diseases. World Health Organization, WHO, says that Antibiotics are an essential part of modern medicine and they are the only cure for numerous infectious diseases. They are medicines used to prevent and treat bacterial infections. Antibiotics have been called ‘’miracle drugs’’ because of the ability to cure infectious diseases that were previously fatal. In most developed countries like Nigeria antibiotics are the second most widely used class of drug These drugs have saved millions of lives; however with the misuse of the drug, antibiotics have led to serious problems. According to WHO, report, recently Antibiotic resistance has become one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development, because its resistance does not discriminate, it can affect anyone, of any age, in any country. Antibiotic resistance occurs naturally, but misuse of antibiotics in humans and animals is accelerating the process, hence it is become a global problem. Due to this drug misuse and resistance a growing number of infections such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, and gonorrhoea are becoming harder to treat as the antibiotics used to treat them become less effective. Antibiotic resistance leads to longer hospital stays, higher medical costs and increased mortality, WHO says. According to the organization’s report on the resistance process- Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in response to the use of these medicines. Only Bacteria, not humans or animals, become antibiotic- resistant. These bacteria may infect humans and animals, and the infections they cause are harder to treat than those caused by non-resistant bacteria. Antibiotic resistance leads to higher medical costs, prolonged hospital stays, and increased mortality. Therefore WHO has called on countries to urgently chang the way they prescribe and use antibiotics. Even if new medicines are developed, without behaviour change, antibiotic resistance will remain a major threat, WHO notes. Behaviour changes must also include actions to reduce the spread of infections through vaccination, hand washing, practising safer sex, and good food hygiene. WHO also warns that Antibiotic resistance is rising to dangerously high levels in the world because new resistance mechanisms are emerging and spreading globally, threatening the ability to treat common infectious diseases. A growing list of infections – such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, blood poisoning and gonorrhoea – are becoming harder, and sometimes impossible, to treat as antibiotics become less effective. Where antibiotics can be bought for human or animal use without a prescription, the emergence and spread of resistance is made worse. Similarly, in countries without standard treatment guidelines like Nigeria, antibiotics are often over- prescribed by health workers and veterinarians and over- used by the public. Without urgent action, we are heading for a post- antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries can once again kill, WHO warns.

READ ALSO  Ebola still a risk, requires vigilance - WHO