The burden of death rate attributed to Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) was highest in Western Africa at 27.3 deaths per 100,000, making it a super region for death due to drug-resistant pathogens, according to The Lancet publication in 2022 and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
An estimated 4.95 million deaths were associated with bacterial AMR globally in 2019. Also, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there are 15 priority antibiotic-resistant pathogens causing the greatest threat to human and animal health – four of which have been detected in Nigeria.
The NCDC, in a statement signed by Director General, Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa, and released yesterday, to mark World Antimicrobial Resistance Week (November 18 to 24), said available evidence and projections suggest that by 2050, AMR could cost $300 billion to $1 trillion yearly globally.
“In addition, the need for more expensive and intensive care, prolonged hospital stays, expensive and intensive treatments add to the direct monetary effects of AMR on health care via escalation in resource utilisation.
“AMR is also associated with the loss of livestock and increased cost of livestock production that indirectly affect the livelihood of farmers, which in turn have a deleterious impact on Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” Adetifa noted.
In reference to antimicrobial use in Nigeria, Adetifa said seven out of 10 persons access antibiotics outside licensed health facilities or pharmacies, while many patients in hospitals are overprescribed antibiotics that have a higher risk of bacterial resistance selection (above the 60 per cent target set by WHO).
“In the animal health sector, antimicrobials are available in the open markets without restriction, hence the misuse of these products, especially in food-producing animals. Residues of these antimicrobials in eggs, milk and meat, when consumed by humans, can potentially cause cancers, allergies, and mutations,” he said.
The NCDC boss said Nigeria’s AMR response commenced in 2017, following a situational analysis led by the NCDC in collaboration with the Federal Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Environment.
It investigated antimicrobial-resistant pathogens found in hospitals, animals, agricultural, and environmental sources, as well as antimicrobial prescriptions.
Some of the identified challenges for Nigeria’s AMR response include suboptimal coordination between relevant sectors (regulatory authorities and components of the healthcare delivery system), poor surveillance and response on account of limited availability of diagnostics and inadequate resources, suboptimal adoption and practice of standardised infection prevention and control practices in the community and health facilities, limited access to proper medications, inappropriate prescription practices, and poor enforcement of legal frameworks in place to regulate antimicrobial use.