The WHO noted that Ghana has one of the best laws and policies on medicines, but they are buried in books, adding: “Other countries rather come to learn and go back to implement them for the benefit of their people whilst we sit back doing nothing with ours”.
Mrs Edith Andrews Annan, National Professional Officer in Charge of Essential Drugs and Medicines at the WHO, Ghana Office, expressed the worry at a day’s media dissemination workshop on the Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) in the country.
The workshop organised by the Ghana National Drug Programme of the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the WHO and Department of Microbiology of the University if Ghana Medical School was on the theme: “Managing Antimicrobial Resistance in Ghana, The role of the Media.”
Mrs Annan noted that most people are able to access pharmacies and buy antibiotics without prescription, and described that as illegal.
“In Ghana, anyone can just walk into a pharmacy and buy any antibiotic without prescription for use and this has caused severe misuse of it causing resistance,” she stressed.
Antibiotics she explained are also sold in the open market and under the mercy of the weather, destroying its potency and efficacy.
She mentioned the Food and Drugs Authority and Pharmacy Council as the only two agencies responsible for the enforcement of the laws but both have not lived up to expectation with the excuse that they lack of logistics and resources.
AMR she said has become a global phenomenon as a result of misuse of antibiotics, antiviral and antimalarials making standard treatment ineffective and persistent infections.
She noted that a global surveillance conducted in 2014 revealed high proportions of resistance to common treatments reported in all regions and negative effect on patient outcomes and health expenditures.
She called on stakeholders to step up activities on awareness creation and education for patients on the use and adherence of the laws.
Professor Mercy Newman of the Department of Microbiology of the University of Ghana Medical School said a survey conducted in Ghana on the trends of antibiotic resistance has revealed that antibiotics are gradually losing its potency due to inappropriate and irrational use of medicines as well as poor infection prevention and control practices.
She noted that gradually, the efficacy of frontline treatment is being lost and effective antibiotic s which were cheaper 10 years ago, are now becoming costly due to complications.
“The pipeline is getting dried up because no new antibiotics are being invented and we need urgent action to curb the situation or we will be heading for a post-antibiotic era where common infections and minor injuries can once again kill.”
Mr Brian Adu Asare Programme Officer at the Ghana National Drug Programme, who outlined progress made, called for a broad policy framework, which should focus more community education and socio-cultural change interventions.
He urged Ghanaians to ensure better hygiene, access clean water and sanitation, use antibiotics only when prescribed, complete the full prescription and not to share antibiotics with others or use leftover prescription.
He also advised the public to desist from misusing antibiotics, since that could be harmful to their health.