An analysis by the Ministry of Health has found increasing trends of antibiotic resistance with Kampala topping the list of places where drugs previously used to treat certain infections are no longer working.
Speaking to journalists about their findings, Harriet Akello, a Senior Pharmacist in the ministry said seven out of ten recommended first-line drugs are being reported to have lost potency, especially in the urban areas. Currently, anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR) surveillance occurs at all national and regional referral hospitals where bacterial samples are routinely picked and subjected to drug susceptibility tests.
Akello says that through these tests they have found resistance to drugs such as Ceftriaxone, ciprofloxacin, and amoxicillin which, should be treating seventy percent of infections in the country.
She says the highest resistance is being seen in Kampala attributing it to people self–medicating where patients have resorted to doing Google searches or accepting referrals from friends before accessing un-prescribed drugs off pharmacies and drug shop counters.
Because of these findings and the fear that cheap and readily available antibiotics will soon stop working for many people driving the cost of care higher, Akello says they have resolved to start talking to clinicians alerting them about the importance of doing thorough diagnosis before treating and avoiding over the counter purchase of drugs that are supposed to be purchased with a prescription note.
According to Dr. Sheba Gitta, the Country Director of Tropical Health and Education Trust (THET) that is working with the ministry to prevent AMR they have already identified hospitals where training and surveillance will initially happen.
In Kampala, Kawempe Hospital has been selected as four other hospitals in urban areas including Entebbe regional referral hospital, Mukono, Lira, and Gulu regional referral hospitals. These hospitals are expected to have functional therapeutic committees which keep tabs on what drugs are being prescribed for what.
Experts say such efforts which include thorough tracking of data can help in developing methods that will help defeat the resistance challenge. However, Uganda is not the only country battling this problem as the World Health Organisation has already sounded an alarm that anti-microbial resistant infections are currently accounting for 5.3 million deaths annually around the globe.