A situational analysis of antimicrobial drug resistance in Africa: are we losing the battle?

Ethiop J Health Sci. 2012 Jul;22(2):135-43.


Background: The first arrival of a sizable shipment of penicillin at the North African Theatre of Operations for USA military use in 1943 was a landmark that turned a new chapter of antibiotic use in Africa. Over the past decade the expansion of resources and the technological advances have meant that much larger quantities of drugs are available in developing countries than ever before. As a result, many more individuals are receiving necessary treatment or therapy than just ten years ago. This very welcome event is accompanied by the terrible irony that increases in drug availability and use can promote drug resistance and render the same life-saving drugs ineffective.

Methods: The study focused on bacterial pathogens. One hundred and three relevant literatures were identified from the PubMed online database. The coverage included research articles concerning antimicrobial resistance involving subjects of an African country.

Results: Resistant bacteria are on a war path and evidently have acquired an edge over us. Our actions are evidently fuelling the resistance. The indiscriminate use of antibiotics in humans and livestock, wrong and substandard prescriptions by unqualified 'medical personnel' together with poor diagnosis or lack of it are all adding fuel to the already fired train of resistant microbes.

Conclusion: To win the war and turn tables as we did with the discovery of penicillin and other antimicrobials in the 1940s, then we must all act now. Antimicrobial stewardship programs-Education, training of laboratory personnel and investment in laboratory infrastructure development are desirable in these situations.

Keywords: Antibiotics; Bacteria; Resistance.