Last Resort Antibiotics Nolonger Effective in Treating Infections -Scientists

Some last-resort  antibiotics that were previously used in the Intensive Care Units (ICU) are no longer effective in the treatment of common infections, a trend that points to a serious threat to public health systems

Dr Henry Kajumbula, a Clinical Microbiologist who heads the department of medical microbiology at Makerere University told URN in an interview that scientists are reporting that they are increasingly seeing bacteria that no antibiotic in current use can kill.

Some of the drugs that can no longer work include carbapenem and colistin. This according to experts means they are left with only a few options when it comes to the treatment of critical patients with antibiotics which comes with a huge cost since such strong medicines are also very expensive to procure.

Dr Kajumbula says that most of these resistant bacteria are a result of hospital-acquired infections which very sick patients get while in the ICU.

Already, Kajumbula says drugs such as ceftriaxone which were previously effective and convenient to use for bacterial infections have been abused to the rates of over 60 per cent in the community and 90 per cent in the healthcare setting.

According to experts attending a workshop on monitoring diseases and antimicrobial use in poultry farming at the College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Bio Security, the resistance challenge is worsened by the fact that there is no adequate laboratory capacity to guide clinicians on the rational use of medicine.

As a result, some health workers are dispensing antibiotics for coughs and other viral infections that are not supposed to be treated by antibiotics. Amidst such challenges, Kajumbula says they have launched an awareness campaign involving the health workers, the public and the concerned ministries of agriculture and water in addition to the Uganda Wildlife Authority such that the problem of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is handled jointly.

Prof. Lawrence Mugisha, a researcher and lecturer at the College of Veterinary Medicine says that as part of the effort, they have developed an ICT system through which farmers can report diseases they are seeing on their farms and what effective medications they can use safely.

Mugisha says the system developed by a team of both local and international scientists can be used with a mobile phone which makes it convenient for many as their data already shows in Kampala and Wakiso districts alone mobile phone coverage by both feature phone and smartphone users is up to 90 per cent.

‘It would also be easy to work with common telecommunication companies to whom farmers had already subscribed. Real-time communication with veterinary doctors, feed dealers, drug sellers, and farmers themselves would be made easy. Since 80% of the farmers do farm-related activities, so deploying an IT system is easy in monitoring AMR use,’ he explained.

Also, when it comes to monitoring AMR in labs, some innovations have been introduced as Kajumbula explains.

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