IHVN calls for legislation to regulate use of antibiotics in Nigeria

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The Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN), has called for legislation to regulate the use of antibiotics in the country.

Dr Temitope Adetiba, Senior Programme Officer, IHVN, made the call in an interview with in Abuja.

Adetiba said, “The world is facing a scary future of antimicrobial resistance where the bacteria that we are exposed to are becoming resistant to the antibiotics we have.”

He lamented that many Nigerians use antibiotics like they used pain killers.

“In our setting, we have a high burden of different infections where antibiotics are required and we have a proliferation of antibiotics.

“You can practically walk into any store in Nigeria where medicines are sold and buy antibiotics without a doctor’s prescription. Most times, you are either using the wrong antibiotic or you are using inadequate doses of the antibiotics, which makes the bacteria to develop resistance to the antibiotics.”

He added that a legislation at both national and state assemblies would limit access to antibiotics, thereby guiding its use, and mandating people sick with infectious diseases to get tested.

“For instance, last year, Nigeria diagnosed 2,061 people with drug-resistance tuberculosis. Out of this number, we placed only 1,584 on treatment because 477 people refused to take the medicines.

“We need laws that are effective to empower health care practitioners to ensure that patients adhere to recommended treatment.

“What happens when they refuse treatment is that they worsen their chances of survival and spread drug-resistant tuberculosis to their household members and close contacts. A person with drug-resistant tuberculosis who is not on treatment can infect up to 20 people in a year,” he explained.

He furthered explained that failure to immediately treat tuberculosis with the specified dose of antibiotics and right duration leads to drug-resistant tuberculosis.

“Nigeria has a burden of more than 21,000 drug resistant tuberculosis patients every year and tuberculosis ranks as one of the top 10 causes of sickness and death within the country,” he stressed.

Adetiba urged Nigeria to emulate countries where tuberculosis had been eliminated.

“In other countries, once the diagnosis of drug-resistant tuberculosis is made, it is immediately reported to local health authorities and not treated as an individual problem. Personal rights should not supersede overall public health,” he said.

He, however, urged Nigerians to fight antimicrobial resistance by avoiding indiscriminate use of antibiotics to treat cough without testing for tuberculosis.

“If the cough is due to tuberculosis, no antibiotics from a chemist or a pharmacy will cure you. You should take the correct anti TB treatment for that.

“What IHVN has been doing under the Global Fund TB Public Private Mix Grant, is to engage over 20,000 Patent Medicine Vendors, Chemists, and Pharmacy Stores in 21 states of Nigeria.

“We have equipped them with training and tools to adequately manage clients who present cough. These patent medicine vendors collect sputum samples and refer to hospitals for free TB test. If the test is positive, the patient is referred to a nearby hospital for free TB treatment,” he said.