Dr Kwame Ohene Buabeng, Deputy Chairman of the National Policy Platform for Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR), said Antibiotic Resistance (ABR) and its threat on population and ecological health was real.
He said ABR was an important public problem, and cautioned that the fears of having untreatable infections in hospitals was a reality if care was taken.
He explained that ABR/AMR meant any antibiotic/antimicrobial agent that had been compromised or had reduced or had no activity when used to treat certain microbes that were in the past susceptible.
Dr Buabeng, who is also a Senior Lecturer/Clinical Pharmacologist, Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Health Sciences, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, was speaking to the Ghana News Agency in Accra on the sidelines of a stakeholder workshop on the Action on Antibiotic Resistance.
He said without agent, co-ordinated action, medical science would be heading towards a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries which had been treatable for decades could once again kill.
Dr Buabeng said pragmatic efforts from government and various stakeholders which had been initiated to contain the situation must be sustained.
He said civil society organisations had a critical role for advocacy and to empower the general public to ensure responsible use of antibiotics, thus preserve the lifespan of these lifesaving medicines.
He said AMR occurred when microbes survived and grew in the presence of agents that normally killed or inhibited the growth of the microbes
He observed that high level of resistance to common treatments reported in all World Health Organisation regions showed that the situation was likely to be worse in low/middle income countries, due to weak health systems, inefficient regulation on the manufacture, supply and distribution.
On some common infections that had become, or increasingly getting difficult to treat, he mentioned wound infections, pneumonia, septicemia, enteric fever and bacillary dysentery, and childhood ear infections, as examples.
Dr Buabeng said some factors that frustrated the fight against ABR and its public health menace, were low public awareness of ABR and its health implications.
He said many still believed that antibiotics were generally effective against viral, protozoa or fungal infections.
He also mentioned easy access and increasing use and misuse of antibiotics in humans, stating that many people believed that antibiotics were magic bullets, and could solve myriad of health problems.
Dr Buabeng further said availability and exposure to spurious, fake and sub-standard antibiotics in the health system and lack of investment into production of new, safe and effective antibiotics, were some of the factors.
On trends on ABR in Ghana, Dr Buabeng noted that data obtained from the two main Teaching hospitals; the Korle-bu and Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospitals, indicated that resistance to Tetracycline, Ampicillin, Chloramhenicol and Cotrimoxazole were not new.
He said an increasing trend was being observed for resistance to Nalidixic acid, Norfloxacin, Gentamicin, Cefuroxime, Cefotaxime; and that worth-noting was Multidrug resistance strains.
He said current reports from these facilities and other districts were suggesting disturbing trends of AMR.
Dr Buabeng pointed out that a 2008 data from Northern Ghana indicated that enteric bacteria from children in urban Northern Ghana were highly resistant to Ampicillin, Co-trimoxazole and Chloramphenicol.
He urged the media to help educate the public on the issues on ABR to create awareness, promote behavioral change, thereby stemming the tide on AMR/ABR.