What are antimicrobials?
Antimicrobials are medicines used to prevent and treat infections caused by micro-organisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites they include antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals, and antiparasitics.
What is antimicrobial resistance?
Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) occurs when infection-causing microorganisms no longer respond to commonly used medicines, making infections harder to treat.
As a result of drug resistance, antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines become ineffective and infections become increasingly difficult or impossible to treat.
How does antimicrobial resistance occur?
AMR occurs when the microorganisms change over time, and these changes make them resistant to commonly used medicines.
AMR is mostly caused by misuse and overuse of antimicrobials.
Antimicrobial resistance is a global concern
The World Health Organization has declared that AMR is one of the top 10 global public health threats in 2021. This is because antimicrobial resistance continues to threaten the ability to treat common infections, as antibiotics become more ineffective. As drug resistance spreads globally, infections will become more difficult to treat and can lead to more severe infections and even death in patients infected with such microorganisms.
How can we stop antimicrobial resistance?
Dr. Grace Ikahu-Muchangi talked to antimicrobial resistance experts, to gather expert opinions on how to prevent antimicrobial resistance, and this is what they had to say:
Dr. Maurice Wakwabubi, the Head of Health Standards & Quality Assurance Department, at the Ministry of Health in Kenya
The Government of Kenya has developed a National Policy and Action Plan to guide implementation of all activities aimed at preventing and containing AMR. These are classified into 5 strategic objectives as outlined in the National Action Plan:
- Improve public awareness and understanding, and promote education and training of professionals
- Continuously monitor antimicrobial resistance and use of antimicrobials, and appropriately understand the trends and spread of antimicrobial resistance
- Prevent the spread of antimicrobial-resistant organisms by implementing appropriate infection prevention and control measures
- Promote appropriate use of antimicrobials in the fields of healthcare, livestock production, agriculture and aquaculture
- Promote research on antimicrobial resistance and foster research and development to secure the means to prevent, diagnose and treat the antimicrobial-resistant infections
Says that improving awareness and understanding of AMR through effective communication, education, and training by implementing public education media campaigns tailored to communities in the following ways;
- Capitalizing covid19 communication by priming media to cover health topics, avoiding jargon or technical language.
- Focus on big picture(why AMR is a problem for people)
- One Health approach.
- Strengthening the knowledge and evidence base on AMR through surveillance and research
- Reduce the incidence of infections through effective sanitation, hygiene, and infection prevention and control.
- Optimize use of antimicrobials in human animal and plant health through programs such as:
- Antimicrobial stewardship(prudent use of antimicrobials),
- Proper diagnosis and treatment for the right diagnosis
- Antimicrobial Susceptibility Testing(AST)
Also concurs that educating healthcare professionals and the general public about AMR and the consequences of AMR can contribute to the prevention of antimicrobial resistance.
Enhancing food safety from farm to fork, enhancing better sewage treatment and waste management, improving the drainage systems in Kenya.
- Alternative treatments, such as using bacteriophages to treat a bacterial infection that would reduce the use of antibiotics.
- Coming up with new diagnostic tools that be used to differentiate bacterial infection from a viral infection or non-infectious condition to prevent unnecessary use of antibiotics
- Diagnostic tools to determine whether a bacterial infection is likely to respond to a specific antibiotic hastening the process by an appropriate drug can be identified faster.
The first way to combat AMR is to design tailored tools for raising community awareness and involve the community in the advocacy for saving the antimicrobials and combating AMR resistance
Secondly is to enforce the governance on Antimicrobial use, starting from defining a realistic strategic objective, providing the strategies, policies, laws, and regulations, and accountability frameworks for the bodies and individuals who are directly or indirectly working on Antimicrobials.