A Consultant Endocrinologist, Dr Bolanle Okunowo, has cautioned against self-medication and indiscriminate use of antibiotics.
Okunowo, also a Consultant Physician with the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), gave the advice in an interview in Lagos on Thursday in commemoration of the 2023 World Antibiotics Awareness Week (WAAW).
BRANDPOWER reports that the WAAW is annually celebrated from Nov. 18 – Nov. 24 to raise awareness about the threat of antibiotic resistance and the importance of appropriate antibiotic use.
The theme for the 2023 WAAW is: “Preventing Antimicrobial Resistance Together.”
She expressed concern that the rate of antibiotic abuse and self medication in the country was alarming, describing the situation as a threat to the nation’s health management.
She said that using antibiotics without prescription from medical experts was one of the major problems causing Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) across the country, leading to greater challenges in health management.
The endocrinologist explained that “AMR occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites no longer respond to antimicrobial agents.
“As a result of drug resistance, antibiotics and other antimicrobial agents become ineffective and infections become difficult or impossible to treat, increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death.
“There is an increasing problem of antimicrobial resistance, whereby antibiotics are no longer effective for the treatment of infectious diseases which they were specifically designed to fight.
“This is why a doctor will admit a patient and when he/she administered a particular antibiotic that should ordinarily cure the patient’s ailment, it will not work.
“Antibiotics, known as antibacterials are drugs that destroy or slow down the growth of bacteria. They are meant to be used in treating specific types of bacteria and in general cannot be interchanged to treat any infection other than that they were designed for.
“But today, they are indiscriminately used to treat diverse kinds of ailments; which has made the antibiotics to become resistant that they are no longer effective to combat the targeted infections they are designed for.”
She, therefore, emphasised the need for proper examination and diagnosis by qualified medical practitioners before prescription to use antibiotics.
According to her, before prescribing the use of any antibiotics, both the patient and the antibiotic are supposed to undergo a culture test in a laboratory to ascertain the causative organism to the ailment and the exact antibiotic that can kill it.
The physician lamented that people now use antibiotics to treat infections like cold, flu, cough, and at times sore throat, caused by viruses without laboratory examination or medical prescription of any sort.
Okunowo urged Nigerians to desist from self medication and indiscriminate use of antibiotics to reduce the threat of antibiotics resistance in their bodies.
She advised that people should cultivate the habit of completing their antibiotic medication or dosage.
According to her, a lot of people are fond of abandoning or breaking the antibiotic treatment the moment they feel better, saying it is another major contributing factor to antibiotics resistance.
She said “many people are of the habit of taking antibiotics for three days and stop, simply because they think they feel better.
“This is drug abuse and very wrong. The act will make the antibiotic to become resistance in the body such that when next it is taken for the same kind of ailment, it will not work.
“The normal dosage for antibiotic prescription treatment is seven days, irrespective of any feeling,” she said.
She urged Federal Government to intensify efforts toward effective regulation and implementation of policies and guidelines on the use and sale of drugs in the country.
According to her, there is need for government to increase awareness and jingles through the television, radio and other social media to educate citizens on the right use of antibiotics and other drugs.