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Anti-microbial resistance a threat to life-MOH

Limpho Sello

THE Ministry of Health along with other ministries and government departments recently held a five-day workshop in Maseru to analyse the levels of situational anti-microbial resistance (AMR) microorganisms which remain a threat to life in African and Asian countries.

The workshop started on the 19th of this month and ended on Friday at Lancers’ Inn in Maseru.

Anti-microbial resistance occurs when microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change in ways that render the medications used to cure the diseases they cause ineffective. Anti-microbials are medicines used in the treatment of infections in both humans and animals.

Ministry of Health pharmacist Nteboheleng Tjobe recently told the Sunday Express that people and animals are dying all over the world due to their bodies being resistant to anti-microbials.

Ms Tjobe said in May 2015, the 68th World Health Assembly, AMR was noted as a concern where member states including Lesotho were asked to act immensely to prevent, control and monitor it by drawing an action plan to address the challenges.

It is in response to these concerns that her ministry partnered with various other ministries and sectors like Agriculture, environment, animal and human health to discuss ways in which they can address the challenge.

The threat posed by AMR to public health as well as Global Health Security has been highlighted in several World Health Assembly (WHA) resolutions since 2015. AMR is also prioritised under the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA).

Ms Tjobe said people are already dying and according to a 2010 World Bank study, there will be at least 10 million deaths annually by 2050 mostly in African and Asian countries given that they are most burdened by infectious diseases which are treated with anti-microbials.

“There are several factors about AMR which, if not addressed, we are likely to experience more deaths in the future,” Ms Tjobe said.

“Common infections are becoming untreatable for example, the majority of HIV and Tuberculosis (TB) patients are being switched from the first line regimen to the second line regimen, which is usually expensive for patients and the government.

“Again, a few new anti-microbials are in the pipeline and there are no class microbials which were discovered since the 80’s. So, this means that we need to preserve those that are available.

“Failing to preserve them brings the risk of going to a pre- anti-microbial era where people who are sick will have to be isolated if we do not act now.”

Ms Tjobe said AMR is considered a serious public health threat.

“This is particularly so because the micro organisms are found everywhere and can spread easily between animals, circulate through food and the environment.

“All types of microbes can develop resistance to the medicines that have been developed to kill them,” Ms Tjobe said.

She said microbes become resistance occurs naturally over time, usually through genetic changes and also due to overuse and misuse of anti-microbials in people and animals also speeds the process.

“The misuse can be seen where for instance the antimicrobials are used for viral infections such as colds and influenza in human and often given without professional supervision,” Ms Tjobe said.

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