Dr. Henry Kajumbula the chairman UNAMR Committee has said that Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has lately become a silent killer with more than 90% of bacterial infections among patients in intensive care units and health care centers in the country being attributed to it.
According to Kajumbula, such patients can only be treated using reserve antibiotics which are not only very costly but also less effective because they have more side effects than first-line antibiotics.
“In 2019, nearly a 1.3million deaths worldwide were attributed to AMR. This number of deaths was more than those caused by malaria, cancer, and T.B” he noted.
Kajumbula revealed this to journalists while issuing a statement on the World Antimicrobial Resistance Awareness Week at Media Center in Kampala on Friday.
This year’s Awareness Week which starts from the 18th to the 24th of November will be celebrated under the theme “Preventing Antimicrobial Resistance Together” and the slogan “Antimicrobial Resistance: A Silent Killer”. According to Kajumbula, the theme promotes collaboration across the various sectors to ensure the efficiency of these critical medicines is preserved.
“Resistant germs are not only a threat to life but also significantly increase health care costs, in addition to this, resistant infections in animals also severely compromises animal production and productivity” kajambula highlighted.
Currently, the estimations from the World Bank indicate that AMR becomes a major threat to the attainment of both health and economic strategic development goals because in the worst-case scenario it could lead to a USD3.8trillion shortfall in the global GDP annually.
Experts revealed that the major drivers of AMR in Uganda include among others the use of antibiotics that are not prescribed by qualified health care workers, the use of a smaller than recommended dose of antibiotics, treating animals with antibiotics meant for humans, sharing antibiotics between family members and use of antibiotics as growth promoters in animal feeds.
In 2018 the government of Uganda developed and launched the AMR action plan anchored on 5 strategies aimed at slowing the development and spread of resistance as well as ensuring the availability of treatment.
The five strategies included promoting awareness and understanding of the burden and drivers of resistance, surveillance of resistance, optimizing the use of antibiotics, improving infection prevention and control practices, and also research and innovation to develop alternative methods of diagnosing.
Kajumbula urged members of the community, farmers, veterinarians, environmentalists, and healthcare workers to ensure that antibiotics and other antimicrobial drugs are not overused and to also join hands in preventing and containing antimicrobial resistance.