Take action to reduce misuse of antibiotics

EDITORIAL |
Resistance to antibiotics has ripple effects beyond health: They increase the cost of treatment especially for communicable diseases. [iStockphoto]

Many Kenyans have been experiencing Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR) or resistance to antibiotics which medical researchers and pharmaceutical companies have blamed on recurrent use of over-the-counter drugs.

Besides human beings, the challenge of AMR is also rampant in animals, according to a study released by the World Animal Protection in November last year.   

The report titled, 'Evidence of superficial knowledge regarding antibiotics', showed that 90 per cent of Kenyan households used antibiotics annually-and were the most sold product for which more than two-thirds of pharmacists hardly asked for a prescription.

But more worrying is that antibiotics have been losing their ability to kill the germs they were created to conquer. Hard-wired to survive, many bacteria have evolved to outsmart the medications.

This resistance occurs when infection-causing bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites build up an immunity to the medications intended to kill them and continue to multiply.

Antibiotic resistance is escalated through misuse of antibiotics, non-compliance to prescriptions, poor prescribing habits and use of fake or counterfeit medicines- which have lower doses of the active ingredient. 

Resistance to antibiotics has ripple effects beyond health: They increase the cost of treatment especially for communicable diseases.

Among ways of curbing antibiotic resistance include preventing infections through regular washing of hands, adhering to prescriptions, avoiding sharing of antibiotics and using them when prescribed.

But the onus for rectifying the situation lies squarely on regulatory authorities whose mandate is to check on the standard of medicine, mushrooming of illegal medical outlets and weak pharmaceutical policies which have created room for unlicenced or untrained pharmacists to prescribe drugs to unsuspecting users.     

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