Vaccines can help reduce resistance to drugs

WHO says AMR is one of the top ten global health threats. [iStockphoto]

Healthcare experts are now fronting vaccines as possible solutions to increasing cases of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in Kenya.

Drug resistance occurs when bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites change over time and become less susceptible to antimicrobial treatments.

This makes infectious diseases more difficult to treat leading to an increased likelihood of spread, prolonged illness, disability and even death.

Already, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared AMR one of the top ten global health threats with causes of AMR including misuse, overuse or underuse of antimicrobials with most reported cases being not completing dosage, sharing medicine and using antibiotics to treat viral ailments like cold or Flu.

Speaking during a Round Table to end Antimicrobial Week, Dr Jacob Shabani, Head of the Family Physician Department at the Aga Khan University Hospital said “research institutions responsible for vaccine research, international medical organizations and national governments need to appreciate and acknowledge that investment in vaccines will play a significant role in the reduction of AMR.”

Dr Sylvia Gachoka, the Infectious Disease Specialist at the Kenya Defence Forces Memorial Hospital, the economic cost of AMR is high since it causes death, disability and prolonged hospitalization with financial repercussions to families, yet “the production pipeline for new antimicrobials is dry and there is a global shortage of quality antimicrobials, especially in developing nations.”

Antimicrobials include antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals and antiparasitic, and Eva Njagua, Senior Medical Manager at Pfizer argues that researchers and manufacturers need appropriate incentives for research and be enabled to have a greater and collective impact on AMR.

The World Bank projects that AMR would account for a more than 3 per cent reduction in Gross Domestic Product globally by 2050 if interventions are not implemented as soon as possible.

Previously, a report by Mapping Antimicrobial Resistance and Antimicrobial Use Partnership (MAAP) indicated that Africa is struggling to fight drug-resistance pathogens and that the struggle in the fight against drug-resistant pathogens is compounded by a lack of an accurate picture through data of how antimicrobial resistance is impacting people.