Ghana has joined other countries to commemorate this year's World Antibiotics Awareness week with a call for all to work towards the safe and responsible use of antibiotics.
Speaking at the launch of the week-long activities in Accra, Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, said antibiotic resistance was when bacteria was no longer affected by the medicine it was previously susceptible to, making it more difficult to treat than those caused by non-resistant bacteria.
He said the emergence and increasing spread of antibiotic resistance must be seen as a public health concern with serious consequences for the treatment of infections.
Mr. Agyeman-Manu said the phenomenon which was already causing up to 700,000 deaths worldwide each year, could be attributed to practices like inappropriate self medication, non-adherence to therapy, over the counter sale of antibiotics from unlicensed medicines and unapproved outlets.
“When antibiotics are obtained and used inappropriately, selective pressure is brought to bear, favouring the emergence of resistant strains. Without urgent action, antibiotics that are useful today may no longer be useful in future,” he said.
The sector minister therefore urged regulatory agencies to apply the whip on individuals and organizations whose practices increased the risk of antibiotic resistance.
Rev. Dr. Dennis Sena Awitty, executive secretary of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana (PSGH), in a speech said the PSGH as the professional association of pharmacists has over the years worked to increase public awareness on the responsible use of medicines particularly antibiotics.
He noted that the theme, “The Future of Antibiotics Depends on All of Us,” was a wake-up call to all, to assist in establishing rational use of medicines (RUM) at facilities to support responsible prescribing and use of antibiotics.
Dr. Kofi Afakye, speaking on behalf of the country director of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Jocelyn Brown Hall, said the proper use of antibiotics in farming should be the focus of antimicrobial resistance activities.
“There is the risk that the inappropriate use of antimicrobials in animals may contribute to the development of AMR which can negatively affect humans, animals and the environment,” he said.
By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri