An initiative to ensure the safe disposal of pharmaceutical products has been launched in Ho.
The goal is to reverse the growing microbial resistance due to the presence of antibiotics in the environment.
A consortium of institutions, comprising the University College London, the University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS), the Ho Teaching Hospital, and the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) is leading this programme.
It will supply special bins to health facilities and other strategic spots to collect unused medicines from the public.
The launch, held at the Out-Patients Department of the Ho Teaching Hospital, was chaired by Prof Kwame Ohene Buabeng, Dean of the UHAS School of Pharmacy, who is also head of the nation's technical working committee on antimicrobial resistance.
“We're dealing with a problem bigger than COVID – a silent pandemic,” he said.
Tonnes of medications continued to end up in the environment, causing an enhancement of resistant mutants in both people and animals.
“There is the risk of getting exposed to resistant microbes in the environment,” Prof. Buabeng said, assuring that the collection programme would help reverse the trend.
Dr. Cornelius Dodoo, Team Lead of the School of Pharmacy on the project, said the University had been collaborating with the Ho Teaching Hospital for the past three years for the programme and that the establishment of an antimicrobial management committee, this year, was a milestone.
He spoke of a “robust” antimicrobial strategy, which would be required in other health facilities in the region.
The programme was working with the pharmaceutical sector to ensure quality drugs to the public while engaging communities on safe disposal, Dr Dodoo said, adding that plans were underway to introduce house-to-house collection of the drugs.
Officials of the FDA present said unwanted medicines could be found in all homes as people tended to save drugs for future use, which posed a risk to children and other unsuspecting persons.
Mr Gorden Akurugu, the Volta Regional Head of the FDA, said the recall of the drugs would enhance the Authority's monitoring of drug use and authenticity.
It called for public support to help ensure a safe environment.
Prof Harry Tagbor, Pro Vice Chancellor of UHAS, commended stakeholders for the initiative and said the programme should be made to reach all people.
He advised that the patronage of health facilities be considered in designing the approach.
Dr John Tampouri, CEO of the Ho Teaching Hospital, said microbial resistance to antibiotics was a risk factor to disease control and a growing challenge to health delivery.
“There has been no way forward, and we have to keep trying different medicines. There seems to be no end to the triage,” he lamented.
Dr Tampouri called for proper use of antibiotics, saying it was one of the key performance indicators in the delivery of quality health care.
There were suggestions that the collection bins should be designed in a way that would discourage theft of the returned drugs.