NCDC warns Nigerians against rising antimicrobial resistance crisis

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has highlighted the emerging threat of antimicrobial resistance where bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites lose their responsiveness to antimicrobials.

Director-General of the NCDC, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, stated this concern on Monday in Abuja during the commemoration of World Antimicrobial Awareness Week.

AMR is responsible for 1.27 million deaths annually, with an additional 3.7 million deaths associated with its effects.

Low- and middle-income countries, especially 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 the mortality rates of HIV/AIDS, malaria, and many cancers.

In Africa, western Africa faces the highest death rate of 27.3 deaths per 100,000 due to drug-resistant pathogens.

Mr Adetifa stressed the importance of responsible antimicrobial use to prevent infections from becoming untreatable.

He advised against sharing or using leftover antibiotics, emphasising proper disposal and consistent hand hygiene.

Highlighting the economic and health system impact, Mr Adetifa stated that up to $100 trillion of global GDP could be lost due to AMR by 2050, 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 finalising its second National Action Plan for AMR (NAP 2.0) in collaboration with relevant stakeholders,” he said.

He urged collaboration across sectors, emphasising a one-health approach to combating AMR effectively.

“Despite Nigeria’s efforts, the recent joint external evaluation rated the country with an average score of 2.4 out of 5, indicating the need for more action.

“To mark WAAW 2023, NCDC, ministries, agencies, and partners are conducting various activities, including press briefings, social media campaigns, sensitisation in health facilities, and awareness campaigns among schoolchildren,” he said.

He urged Nigerians to handle antimicrobials responsibly, seeking professional consultation, completing prescribed doses, and observing withdrawal periods for animals of food origin.

He, however, said that the Federal Government remained committed to the global response against AMR, advocating for the responsible use of antimicrobials guided by a one-health approach.

The World Health Organisation Representative in Nigeria, Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo, highlighted the importance of the year 2023 for AMR in Nigeria as some historic and impactful milestones were achieved with the new administration.

He said that in line with President Bola Tinubu’s “Renewed Hope Agenda,” a high-level political commitment was obtained with the inauguration of the National One Health Ministerial Steering Committee chaired and co-chaired by the Ministers of Health and Social Welfare and Agriculture and Food Security.

The committee also includes the minister of environment and the secretary of state for water resources.

He said that the steering committee gave assurance to support and strengthen one health secretariat to address evidence-based scientific and policy advice on one health threat, including antimicrobial resistance.

He said the 64th National Council on Health and others would improve the funding and programming of AMR at the sub-national level.

“We need to standardise our approach to implementing NAP-2.0 at the sub-national level,” he said.

“So, in the true sense, today we are not just to kick-off WAAW 2023—but raising a toast to our approach and maintenance of this year’s WAAW theme on “Preventing and minimising antimicrobial resistance together.”