The treatment of communicable diseases is now being hampered by the increasing incidence of antimicrobial resistance in communities, public health experts and researchers have alerted.
The experts who spoke at a two-day international webinar themed: ‘Antimicrobial Resistance – Current Perspective and Future Challenges’ organised by the Faculty of Applied Sciences, Shoolini University of Biotechnology and Management Sciences, India, called for global proactive action to halt antimicrobial resistance.
According to experts, antibiotic resistance happens when germs like bacteria and fungi develop the ability to defeat the drugs designed to kill them. That means the germs are not killed and continue to grow. Infections caused by antibiotic-resistant germs are difficult, and sometimes impossible, to treat.
Experts at the webinar said that the potency of antimicrobial medications for treating communicable diseases are been diminished by the resistance of the causative pathogens to antimicrobials.
Antimicrobial resistance, they said, may be responsible for the increased mortality and morbidity from communicable diseases.
The webinar coordinated by Prof. Kamal Dev and Associate Prof. Rajan Rolta, both of Shoolini University also discussed how to handle antimicrobials with care.
Antimicrobial Resistance, according to the World Health Organisation, occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change over time and no longer respond to medicines making infections harder to treat and increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death.
As a result of drug resistance, antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines become ineffective and infections become increasingly difficult or impossible to treat.
The emergence and spread of drug-resistant pathogens that have acquired new resistance mechanisms, leading to antimicrobial resistance, WHO said, continues to threaten the ability to treat common infections.
“Especially alarming is the rapid global spread of multi- and pan-resistant bacteria (also known as ‘superbugs’) that cause infections that are not treatable with existing antimicrobial medicines such as antibiotics,” WHO said.
In his welcome remarks at the webinar, Prof. Dev urged the adoption of a holistic approach to tackle the challenge of antimicrobial resistance.
The holistic approach, he said involves a “one health” strategy that entails “adopting policies, research and implementing programmes that will boost human, animal and environmental health”
In her opening remarks, Prof. Anuradha Sourirajan, dean, Faculty of Applied Sciences and Biotechnology of Shoolini University said antimicrobial resistance is a silent pandemic and a great threat to effective treatment of simple infections.
Sourirajan noted that the seriousness of the antimicrobial resistance challenge informed the decision of the World Health Organisation to have World Antimicrobial Awareness Week celebrated from 18 to 24 November annually.
Also speaking at the webinar, Prof. P.K. Khosla, the vice-chancellor of Shoolini University said it was important to continue to sensitise students, scientists, researchers and the general public on the challenge of drug resistance.
“Indeed, the continuous emergence of microbial drug resistance pathogens should be of utmost concern to researchers and all hands must be on deck to curb this menace,” Khosla said.
In her presentation, Prof Titilayo o. Fakeye of the Department of Clinical Pharmacy and Pharmacy Administration, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Ibadan lamented the indiscriminate use of antimicrobial agents, noting that it has become imperative to address this challenge to save lives.
Prof. Fakeye who is a specialist in clinical pharmacy said that more should be done to create awareness on the importance of rational use of antimicrobials.
Also, Dr. Oladoja A. Awofisayo, a lecturer at the University of Uyo, who spoke on strategies needed to combat multidrug resistance suggested the use of in silico method of drug repurposing.
Explaining the method, Awofisayo said, in silico entails allowing existing drugs already approved by the Food and Drug Administration FDA to be repositioned for alternative use.
Some of the drugs already repurposed, he said, include antipsychotics like chlorpromazine, thioridazine, anti-inflammatory drugs like promethazine and drugs already in use against worms.