NCDC Warns Of Escalating Antimicrobial Resistance Crisis

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The director-general, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa.
The director-general, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) has raised the alarm about the escalating antimicrobial resistance (AMR) crisis and the need to take proactive action.

AMR occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites lose their responsiveness to antimicrobials, leading to severe health implications.

The director-general of NCDC, Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa expressed these concerns during the commemoration of World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) in Abuja. He emphasised the critical need for responsible antimicrobial use to prevent infections from becoming untreatable. Adetifa discouraged the sharing or use of leftover antibiotics and underscored the importance of proper disposal and consistent hand hygiene.

AMR is a global health threat, causing 1.27 million deaths annually, with an additional 3.7 million deaths associated with its effects. Low- and middle-income countries, particularly Nigeria, bear nearly 90 per cent of this burden. Shockingly, over 99.5 per cent of AMR-related deaths occur in children under five, surpassing mortality rates from HIV/AIDS, malaria, and many cancers. Western Africa faces the highest death rate in Africa, with 27.3 deaths per 100,000 due to drug-resistant pathogens.

Adetifa highlighted the economic and health system impact of AMR, revealing that up to US$100 trillion of global GDP could be lost by 2050 due to this crisis, with the most significant negative impact on low- and middle-income countries.

“Nigeria has made progress in its response to AMR since 2017, including the establishment of an AMR surveillance network, antimicrobial stewardship, and awareness programmes. The country is finalizing its second National Action Plan for AMR (NAP 2.0) in collaboration with relevant stakeholders,” he stated. However, he noted that more action is needed, as indicated by the recent joint external evaluation rating Nigeria with an average score of 2.4 out of 5.

To combat AMR effectively, Adetifa urged collaboration across sectors, emphasising a One Health approach. He stated that, to mark WAAW 2023, NCDC, ministries, agencies, and partners are conducting various activities, including press briefings, social media campaigns, sensitization in health facilities, and awareness campaigns among school children.

The director-general urged Nigerians to handle antimicrobials responsibly, seeking professional consultation, completing prescribed doses, and observing withdrawal periods for animals of food origin. He reassured that the Federal Government of Nigeria remains committed to the global response against AMR, advocating for the responsible use of antimicrobials guided by a one-health approach.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) representative in Nigeria, Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo highlighted the importance of the year 2023 for AMR in Nigeria, citing historic milestones achieved with the new administration. He commended the high-level political commitment obtained with the inauguration of the National One Health Ministerial Steering Committee (NOHSC) and its support to strengthen the one health secretariat.

Mulombo noted the approval of the AMR Governance manual for national and sub-national response and emphasised the need to standardise the approach to implementing NAP-2.0 at the sub-national level. He celebrated the development of a robust evidence-based NAP-2.0 on AMR (2024 -2029), aligning with targets and milestones committed by the Minister of Health on the Muscat Declaration-2023.

“In the true sense, today we are not just kicking off WAAW-2023 but raising a toast to our approach and maintenance of this year’s WAAW theme, ‘Preventing and Minimising Antimicrobial Resistance Together,'” Mulombo concluded.

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