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High intake of antibiotics without prescription increasing AMR burden in Ghana –

The burden of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) in Ghana is increasing due to the high consumption of antibiotics with less appropriate prescription.

Professor Eric Sampane-Donkor, a Professor of Bacteriology and Global Health at, University of Ghana Medical School, said although AMR was a natural phenomenon caused by bacteria, it had been hastened by self-medication and wrong usage among the public.

“As doctors prescribed antibiotics anyhow and people take them in large amounts, the burden keeps increasing,” he said.

Prof. Sampane-Donkor said this in Accra when he delivered a lecture on “Prioritising Antimicrobial Resistance Needs in Ghana, a National Choice between Life and Death.”

He said findings from research on ARM conducted in some tertiary schools in Ghana showed that long waiting hours in the hospitals also contributed to the high levels of AMR.

He said the high use of antibiotics in animal husbandry had also triggered AMR in Ghana.

AMR occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites change over time and no longer respond to medicines making infections harder to treat and increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness, and death.

The World Health Organisation estimates that AMR contributed to 4.95 million deaths.

It said that ‘misuse and overuse’ of antimicrobials in humans, animals, and plants were the main drivers in the development of drug-resistant pathogens.
Prof Sampane-Donkor said AMR was an ongoing silent pandemic, the third cause of global deaths in 2019, and one of the top 10 global health threats, with the highest burden in West Africa.

In Ghana, a National Action Plan for Antimicrobial Use and Resistance 2017-2021 was launched in 2018 to be a guide, which would help the country realize its aspirations at combating the AMR phenomenon.

The various components of the NAP, in line with global objectives, include steps to improve awareness and understanding of AMR, strengthen knowledge and evidence base for AMR policy and related actions, and reduce the incidence of infection.

It further aims to optimize the use of antimicrobials as well as develop the economic case for sustainable investments in antimicrobials with specific components of the health system.

Prof Sampane-Donkor called for the strengthening of the national action plan to help implement the targets and monitor the use of antibiotics among the public using the one health approach.

He said Ghana needed to raise awareness of antimicrobial resistance and improve the health and welfare of food-producing animals to decrease the spread of infections in farm animals.

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