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Home / Health & Science

World Health Organisation raises alarm on drug resistance

HEALTH & SCIENCEBy ALLY JAMAH | Thu,Nov 12 2015 00:00:00 EAT
By ALLY JAMAH | Thu,Nov 12 2015 00:00:00 EAT

Treating many common diseases like tuberculosis and pneumonia is increasingly proving difficult as the killer ailments become more resistant to available medicines, a report shows.

Similarly, treating common infections that occur during child birth, surgery, organ transplantation, chemotherapy or accidents may become tricky.

The World Health Organisation has raised the alarm, saying antibiotics previously potent in dealing with a host of common diseases and infections are fast losing their effectiveness.

"The resistance of diseases to antibiotics has now reached dangerously high levels. Without urgent action, we are heading to an era in which common infections and minor injuries can once again kill," it warned.

This comes as Kenya and other countries prepare to mark the World Antibiotic Awareness Week from next week (November 16 to 22) to raise awareness about the growing threat of antibiotic resistance and to galvanise action to address the crisis.

The most affected class of medicines that are becoming less effective are antibiotics used in treating and preventing infections caused by bacteria.

Director of Medical Services Nicholas Muraguri said the scale of the problem in Kenya is not yet known since data has not been collected, but it was likely to be as high as reported in other countries.

Dr Muraguri said the Government has developed an action plan to address the issue of increased resistance to antibiotics that may be a big threat to public health.

"We will have centres to monitor drug resistance especially for diarrhoea and pneumonia. Drug resistance is a big threat to the public health system in the country," he said.

Honorary lecturer at University of Nairobi, Ahmed Kalebi, called for enhanced surveillance of resistance to antibiotics in order to understand the scale of the problem and design smart and targeted strategies to address it.

"Antibiotic resistance occurs naturally, but misuse of antibiotics in humans and animals is accelerating the process. Kenyans should only take antibiotic in line with prescriptions from qualified personnel," said Dr Kalebi, who is also the CEO of Pathologist Lancet laboratories.

Apart from misuse of antibiotics, medical personnel have been blamed for over prescription without the benefit of laboratory tests to confirm the disease being treated.

In addition, scientists say antibiotics given to animals find their way to the human body through consumption of by-products, thereby contributing to growing resistance to medicines. In other instances, substandard medicine has been cited as a culprit since it may not contain the required amounts of active ingredients.

WHO developed an action plan to address this in May.

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