Dr Akanji Benjamin, a Public Health expert based in Osogbo, says antibiotic resistance is becoming a national emergency, urging the Federal Government to take the problem more seriously.
Benjamin made the disclosure in an interview with newsmen on the sidelines of the second National Health Summit, organised by the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, on Wednesday in Abuja.
The health expert said that Nigerians had not been able to muster the collaborative steps necessary to manage the problem of drug resistance.
He added that “if people cannot cooperate and deal with the situation, it remains a societal failure.”
He disclosed that tackling drug-resistant infections had been a huge challenge; adding that though some actions were taken, “the country is still a long way from breakthrough.
“Antibiotic resistant infections are on the rise and Nigerians need to come together to tackle the menace by listening to doctors, pharmacists and nurses’ advice, as well as taking antibiotics only when necessary.”
According to him, while treating infectious diseases like tuberculosis and typhoid, or carrying out safe childbirth and safe surgeries, antibiotic resistance remains a huge concern.
“Over-using antibiotics during treatment always put people at risk.
He noted that “taking antibiotics when they are not needed also increases the pace at which antibiotic resistance develops and this has remained one of the biggest threats to global health.
“The only way out for Nigerians is to stop taking antibiotics for minor infections.
“Taking antibiotics when you don’t need them is not a harmless act, but can have grave consequence.
“Antibiotic resistance is growing at an alarming rate in the country, amid poor personal and environmental hygiene.”
The health expert, who also said that he observed most Nigerians failed to wash their hands after using the toilet, added that hygiene was an urgent issue for the nation to tackle.
He noted that the ability to prevent, control and treat infections undermined the whole essence of modern medicine in the global community.
He, however, announced “Phage Therapy” as a promising alternative to antibiotics.
Phage therapy is the use of bacteriophages to treat bacterial infections. This could be used as an alternative to antibiotics when bacteria develops resistance as superbugs become immuned to multiple types of drugs, becoming a concern with the more frequent use of antibiotics.
He, however, explained that “clinical trials are required; and until that happens, compassionate use of phage can save many lives, but it is important to start from somewhere.”