Rising out-of-pocket healthcare cost fuels antimicrobial resistance

Nigeria’s out-of-pocket expenditure of 76 percent is leading to abuse of antimicrobial drugs thus driving microbial resistance, a situation that portends danger to the country’s young population, experts say.

Antimicrobial resistance is a situation where organisms that are treated with antimicrobials either antibiotics, antivirals or even anti fungi become resistant due to misuse of the drugs.

Akinjide Adeosun, managing director at St Rachael’s Pharmaceuticals at a virtual event marking World Antimicrobial Week traced a link between out of pocket payment for healthcare and antimicrobial resistance in Nigeria.

Citing figures from the World Health Organisation , he said people spend half a trillion dollars out of pocket on health in developing countries annually. In Nigeria out-of-pocket healthcare expenditure is 76.60 percent while it is 7.72 percent in South Africa.

“The pressure on patients to pay often leads to sub-optimal purchase of antimicrobial doses thereby encouraging microbials to be resistant to available drugs,” said Adeosun.

This is why Adeosun enjoined Nigerians to support the bill in the House of Representatives calling for free healthcare services for children to stem the tide of antimicrobial resistance.

Adeosun said he unequivocally supported the House of Representatives bill championed by Bello Kaoje to make children’s healthcare services free.

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“This will revolutionise care for children in Nigeria. This bill has passed second reading and must be supported by all,” said Adeosun.

If parents don’t have to worry about out of pocket expenditure, this will directly translate into full dispensing of antimicrobials thereby enhancing eradication of microbes and leading to reduction of antimicrobial resistance, he said.

The World Health Organisation designates November 18 -24 every year as World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) to draw attention to the problem of antimicrobial resistance.

A recent report by the Nigerian Center for Disease Control (NCDC ) said there is widespread antimicrobial resistance among enteric Escherichia coli in Nigeria particularly to penicillins, aminoglycosides, cephalosporins, chloramphenicol, tetracyclines and cotrimoxazole, some of the drugs frequently purchased over the counter at pharmacies without a doctor’s prescription.

The 2021 WAAW has the theme, Spread Awareness, Stop Resistance, and calls on healthcare practitioners, stakeholders, policymakers and the general public to be antimicrobial resistance awareness champions.

Esohe Egboghodo, a medical practitioner based in Edo state said this year’s theme is apt as awareness was important to help draw attention to the dangers of antimicrobial resistance.

Egboghodo said Nigeria has already keyed into this fight through a policy programme that elevates awareness as one of its five focal points.

The Nigerian governance plan developed by government agencies including the ministries of health, environment and agriculture was developed to address country-specific objectives in key areas.

These are increasing awareness and knowledge of antimicrobial resistance and related topics, building a ‘One Health’ antimicrobial resistance surveillance system, intensifying infection prevention and control, promoting rational access to antibiotics and antimicrobial stewardship and investing in antimicrobial research and development.

Adeosun said that ST.RACHEAL’S Pharma is committed to producing high quality antibiotics at affordable prices.

We have been living this promise since birth 3 years ago through our portfolio of seven high quality antimicrobial drugs thereby helping to improve life expectancy in

Nigeria. This is our Mission,” he said.

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