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Tuesday, 22 June 2021

At times of Covid: Egypt launches programmes to combat antimicrobial resistance

The programmes are meant to raise healthcare providers' awareness about the importance of curbing the overuse of antibiotics

Ingy Deif, Monday 17 May 2021
Reuters
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Antibiotics have always been a fundamental pillar of healthcare. Nevertheless, the world has acknowledged in recent years the impact of over-prescription of antibiotics which has led to numerous problems, such as antimicrobial resistance and the spread of superbugs.

Ahram Online sheds light on a number of agreements with public and private sector hospitals that were launched to continue offering medical educational programmes and raising healthcare providers' awareness about the importance of curbing the overuse of antibiotics.

"Providing medical education to medical staff in 22 private and government hospitals, most notably the National Cancer Institute, the International Medical Centre, El-Demerdash Hospital, Ain Shams University Hospital, Cairo University Hospital, comes in light of the increasing threat posed by the overuse of antibiotics, which increases the development of drug-resistant infections, reducing the effectiveness of infection-fighting drugs in many critical cases, such as organ transplantation and chemotherapy for cancer patients, as well as major surgeries," Dr Ihab Thabet, consultant of chest diseases at Abbasiya Hospital, told Ahram Online.

The training, which is sponsored by the private sector's pharmaceutical Merck Sharp and Dohme (MSD), will run for two years and will be provided for more than 1,000 doctors in the form of online and face-to-face lectures on the importance of antimicrobial supervision.

"The majority of antibiotic use around the world is unnecessary or inappropriate. Regarding Covid-19, there is no scientific evidence that the excessive use of antibiotics can protect against the virus," said Thabet.

"Therefore, antibiotics must not be used in prevention or treatment, especially without consulting the doctor following up on the case," he added.

Thabet pointed out that a study was conducted to monitor trends in antimicrobial resistance in three Egyptian hospitals specialising in healthcare in 2015 and 2016, namely Ain Shams University, El-Demerdash, and Dar El-Fouad hospitals.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) pointed out that the overuse of antibiotics will cause 10 million annual deaths by 2050.

Dr. Abdel-Moeti Hussein, professor of surgery at Cairo University, explained the concept of antimicrobial resistance, which occurs when the bacteria acquires protective properties, rendering some antibiotics ineffective against a certain infection.

“Many mistakes and misconceptions contribute to this problem. A patient’s failure to comply with the prescribed course of treatment may result in bacterial infection recurrence. Just because the symptoms of an illness have disappeared does not mean that all germs have been killed.

"On another note, even doctors make mistakes, one of which is giving patients a lot of antibiotics after operations, when they should be only given during or before the surgery,” he emphasised.

As part of its efforts to raise awareness against the misuse of antibiotics, MSD Egypt launches an awareness campaign on social media every year on the sidelines of the World Week to raise awareness about antimicrobial resistance. This year, the company decided to expand the scope of awareness to include the dangerous impact of antibiotics in light of the outbreak of the coronavirus.

The initiative comes in conjunction with the "One Health" approach announced by the WHO to design and implement programmes, policies, legislation, and research to achieve the best results in the field of public health. Combating antibiotic resistance is among the areas covered by this approach.

In the same context, the WHO indicated that the misuse of antimicrobial drugs could cause an increase in the rates of antibiotic resistance in animals and an increase in the number of deaths, noting the importance of issuing clear data on the consumption of antibiotics in food-producing animals.

"Antibiotics impacted health and mortality at a certain time, it literally saved humanity. We now say that cardiovascular diseases and cancer are top causes of deaths worldwide, but in the past people just died in scores due to bacterial infections.

"Nevertheless we have to understand that respecting antibiotics means using them wisely," Dr Reda Kamel, professor of rhinology at Cairo University, said.

WHO reports annually that the health and economic consequences of antibiotic resistance are large and costly, which makes it a serious threat to the health of society, and therefore it is imperative that all governments and their institutions cooperate to confront it.

 

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