Doctors have warned of an increase in resistance to common antifungal drugs used for the treatment of infections like candidiasis. Drug-resistant tuberculosis is also a growing phenomenon, while malaria parasites also are becoming resistant to once-effective first-line anti-malarial treatments.
The World Health Organisation has already warned that over four million Africans a year could die as a result of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) by 2050, and if global action isn’t taken to head off risks, nearly nine million of the estimated 10 million people dying around the world from AMR by 2050, will be either Africans or Asians.
Dr. Joel Buzira a microbiologist at Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) says they conducted a study at Mbarara hospital among pregnant women where they found women suffering from vaginal candidiasis were no longer responding to itraconazole and fluconazole.
For a long time, itraconazole for instance has been one of the best choices for clinicians but it’s no longer effective, which has been attributed to its misuse, he said.
Based on this, experts who were attending a meeting on how to tackle Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) in Uganda on Friday called for the intervention of social scientists to establish what exactly informs drug choices and what patients go through before seeking particular medications.
Buzira pointed out that it’s a personal responsibility for one to ensure that they don’t take medicines unnecessarily. He says other than being a medical problem, resistance to drugs is a behavioral problem which is a reason why there are reports of people giving human drugs to fatten animals and poultry in addition to taking half doses.
Muhammad Lamorde who heads the Global Health Security Programme at the Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI) said everyone can be a champion in preserving the cheap and accessible medicines that have not yet been affected by resistance if they stop self-prescription and take medicine only when it’s necessary.
The challenge he notes, tests for drug resistance before dispensing particular drugs are only available at the level of regional referral hospitals, and yet by the time many people get there, they have already been exposed to resistance. This challenge Bazira says is only worsened by the fact that even when tests are done before despising medicines, they have established in their surveillance efforts that clinicians don’t look at the results when giving drugs but rather what is available in stock especially at government facilities.
However, it should be noted that resistance is not just a problem experienced in humans as Dr. Ceaser Adibaku, an official from the Ministry of Agriculture who attended the meeting says the situation is worse on the veterinary side since no form of surveillance is happening.
He said farmers have free access and unrestricted use of drugs including using human medicine in animals. Adibaku says that they have started to monitor poultry.