Upgraded antibiotics would be more expensive, WHO advocates for prescriptions

Antibiotics in Malawi
  • Many private pharmacies are in for business and might not respect a prescription- Dr. Mwansambo

World Health Organization (WHO) has described antimicrobial resistance (AMR) as a big problem and among the 10 top public health threats to humanity globally which if it not addressed, could see Africa losing 4.1 million people by 2050.

WHO Country Representative Dr. Neema Kimambo urged people to desist from demanding antibiotics without being physically examined or consulting health practitioners.

Speaking during an AMR symposium in Lilongwe, she also bemoaned the tendency of patients abandoning medication after feeling better which she said brings about resistance.

Kimambo stated that anti-microbial resistance means one has pathogens but does not however have the antibiotic to manage them hence stressed on the proper use of the drugs.

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Kimambo: Research for these medicines does not change that much rapidly

“So it becomes very important that we use judiciously the antibiotics that we have.  This field of not just antibiotics but also antimicrobials, covering viruses, covering other microbes because the evolvement and research for these medicines does not change that much rapidly, so we have simple antibiotics that we’ve used for decades that are useful and affordable.

“But when we come to resistance, then it means you need research and when you come to new antimicrobials; they’re more expensive and already you find because of the resistance, the duration in which the people are sick becomes longer. So hospitalization can become longer and also it can result in deaths because they may not get the upgraded or commodity that can now manage the disease or they cannot afford it. It just becomes very important for us to ensure that first we do now allow substandard medicines because those also have an impact on resistance, secondly we prescribe only when needed”.

National Coordinator for Anti-microbial resistance in the Ministry of Health Dr. Watipaso Kasambara noted that many people are not aware of the effects of resistance hence the need to create stakeholder’s awareness and their role in containing the problem.

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Kasambara: Very few people are aware about antibiotic resistance

“I would say maybe five percent of the population of the people who know maybe because of the field where they are; so I would say that they’re a very few people who are aware about antibiotic resistance”.

Secretary for Health Dr. Charles Mwansambo attested to the fact that the trend is being evidenced by the level of antimicrobial resistance currently being experienced.

He indicated that antibiotics have been around since 1928 but unfortunately with time, they’ve become useless because of the resistance developed.

The PS bemoaned the practice of just walking into pharmacies to buy antibiotics without a doctor’s prescription

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Mwansambo: Go to a doctor or a healthcare worker to get a proper prescription

“By so doing, you protect the antibiotic and protect ourselves for future resistance to these antibiotics. So the coming up of so many private suppliers unfortunately some of them are in it for business and as a result, they might not be that ethical when required to respect the prescription. So am calling on all Malawians not to walk into a pharmacy when they’re sick to get medicine; but to go to a doctor or a healthcare worker to get a proper prescription so that we can protect the few antibiotics that we have but are still working”.

Since antibiotics are also used in animals and plants, the health specialist called for coordination from all players on the need to work together in fighting anti-microbial resistance

The awareness week is expected to help the public handle antibiotics with care as the rate at which antibiotics are being developed, is slower than the rate which people are developing anti-microbial resistance.

Dr. Mwansambo expressed wary that if the status quo is maintained, there might come a time when there is no antibiotic to use and even simple infections will be killing people.