Antimicrobial Resistance Poses Global Public Health Concerns – NCDC Boss

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World Health Organization (WHO)

By; MATTHEW UKACHUNWA, Lagos

Director-General of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, has said that antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has has become a public health concern.

Ihekweazu made the declarationon 18th November 2020 as Nigeria joined the world to commemorate year 2020 Antibiotics Awareness Week.
“Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is an issue of global public health concern. This occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites resist the effects of medicines or antimicrobials, making common infections harder to treat and increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death,” the NCDC leader explained.

He said that as part of efforts to combat this threat, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) joined the global community to commemorate the 2020 World Antibiotics Awareness Week (WAAW).
In providing background for World Antimicrobial Resistance Week, Ihekweazu pointed out that in 2015, the World Health Organization set aside the month of November to raise awareness on antimicrobial resistance. 

“Since 2017, NCDC as the National AMR Coordinating body has worked closely with states, relevant stakeholders in the Ministries of Health, Agriculture and Environment to strengthen surveillance for AMR and raise awareness on this public health threat,” he clarified.

According to him, this year, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, in collaboration with Ministries, Departments and Agencies in the animal and human health sectors with support from partners began to commemorate the WAAW from 18-24 November.
The theme of this year’s WAAW is: ‘’Antimicrobials: Handle with Care.”

“The goal is to raise awareness on the global threat of AMR and promote responsible antimicrobial usage amongst healthcare professionals in the animal, human and environment sectors as well as the public,” Ihekweazu elaborated.
He pointed out that several activities have been outlined by NCDC, Federal Ministries of Agriculture and Environment in collaboration with partners, to be held at both national and state level. 

These include Webinar on operationalising One Health interventions on antimicrobial stewardship in Nigeria; Participation at the international webinar on antimicrobial resistance awareness organised by Shoolini University, India, andVirtual engagement with livestock farmers.
Other activuties for the week are: Interactive discussion with Commissioners of Health, Agriculture and Environment;Training with Fleming Fund Fellows on Antimicrobial resistance and Antimicrobial use surveillance.
The NCDC director-general highlighted that interactivediscussion with State Epidemiologists, State Veterinary Epidemiology officers and State Environmental officers as well asvirtual meeting to establish Community of Practice for AMR, and training of journalists on AMR awareness are parts of events for observing Antibiotics Awareness Week in Nigeria this year.
Ihekweazu disclosed that in the last four years, Nigeria has achieved significant milestones in improving AMR surveillance and increasing awareness on the threats
He noted that the achievements include constitution of a National Antimicrobial Resistance Coordination Committee (NARCC) and Technical Working Group (TWG), a functional surveillance network with sentinel sites and reference laboratories in the human and animal sector, conduct of a Situation Analysis and development of a National Action Plan. In addition, the NCDC National Reference Laboratory and other laboratories within the national network are enrolled in the Global Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System (GLASS). Through this and other systems in place, Nigeria is contributing to the global response to AMR.

The NCDC chief said thatAntimicrobial Resistance is an increasingly serious threat to global public health, stressing that itbrequires action across various government sectors and society to tackle it. 

We urge Nigerians to avoid the overuse and misuse of antimicrobials. It is also important to avoid the heavy use of antibiotics in food animal production. The National AMR secretariat at NCDC continues to play a vital role in connecting relevant stakeholders to implement the National Action Plan on AMR,” Ihekweazu stated.

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