Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has the potential to cause 10 million deaths by 2050, worldwide, with treatment costs estimated at US$10 trillion, health experts have said.
AMR happens when harmful micro-organisms are able to survive even where antimicrobial medicines are introduced.
The spread of AMR is a global problem with particularly dire consequences for Zimbabwe, which is grappling with high levels of infection in the face of Limited resources, said Dr Portia Manangazira the chairperson of National Antimicrobial Resistance Core – Group.
She made the remarks, Thursday, at a World Antibiotic Awareness meeting in Bulawayo.
Dr Manangazira said AMR has become a threat more than HIV/AIDS.
“Poor quality medicines, inappropriate use of medicines, as well as poor hygiene and waste management, all facilitate the development of resistance,” said Dr Manangazira.
“This means treatments with antimicrobials such as antibiotics, antifungals and anti-virals are no longer effective. Also the widespread use and misuse of antibiotics gradually fuelled resistance as pathogens evolved and developed defensive mechanism”.
Meanwhile, Mr. Tapiwa Kujinga a member of the National Antimicrobial Resistance Core – Group added that poor adherence has also contributed to AMR.
“Next time you or your children really need antibiotics they might not work as a result of mutations of the bacteria or the virus itself,” said Kujinga.
“In the most current outbreak of Cholera in Glenview, Budiriro and across the country four out of seven drugs were resisted by the disease”.
Kujinga added that if no drastic action is taken AMR has the potential to cause damage.
“If left unattended AMR will cause an estimated 10 million deaths by 2050 with a predicted cost of US $ 10 trillion. The containment of MRA requires an increased awareness by all sectors in health, including the public, as well as collective action,” he said.
In response to the threat of AMR Dr Manangazira told the delegates that the Zimbabwean government has set up the national AMR program.
“However, the system needs to be fixed, there should be rationing of antibiotics so that we preserve the remaining drugs, people should not be given antibiotics without proof of what they are sick of and everyone should adhere to that,” she said.
“ As a country we have to do away with this fixed belief that if I can get an antibiotic I will be okay because that is ignorance on the ability of the body to heal itself.”
“I advise Zimbabweans to finish the antibiotics prescribed to them even when they feel better, also avoid using left over’s and sharing of the antibiotics as this has contributed largely to AMR,” she added.