18 July 2018

Tanzania: Major Bid On to Tame Antibiotics

HEALTH experts from universities and research centres in the United Kingdom, USA and some East African countries, are embarking on an extensive study on the challenges posed by antibiotic resistance in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

The move was announced in Arusha yesterday by the Director of Quality Assurance in the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Dr Mohamed Ali Mohamed.

In his remarks while launching the three-year research mission here yesterday, he said the ability of bacteria and other microorganisms to resist the effects of an antibiotic was becoming a global problem whose reasons the scientists were determined to pinpoint and to come up with a lasting solution for.

Mr Mohamed said the experts would be looking at several issues, including whether patients use antibiotics without proper prescriptions, doctors overdose patients and patients using prescribed drugs along with those lined up for livestock.

They will be making follow-ups of particular cases deeply to come up with the right answers and solutions.

"Antibiotic resistance could be due to several reasons; these experts under the 'Hatuua Project' are interested to establish what causes it in East Africa. Such situations prompt the use of very expensive high-level drugs.

The Ministry has issued directives that are to be adhered to by all medical practitioners before issuing prescriptions to patients," Mr Mohamed said.

Dr Wilber Sabiiti from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, said he was happy to see the consortium starting off the project that targets fighting the resistance in East Africa.

He related it to the spirit of Founding President Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, focused on uniting the country, noting that what the experts were doing was to sustain the spirit for better health for the people.

The Ugandan medical practitioner said the research findings would then be presented to respective authorities and the public would be made aware of them, to facilitate observance ensuing advices.

Professor Blandina Mmbaga, the Director of Kilimanjaro Clinical Research Institute (KCRI), said that in Tanzania, the institute would work with Bugando Medical Centre and Mbeya Zonal Referral Hospital and would specialize on Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) and establish what microorganisms caused it.

She explained that they would also be engaging communities such as pastoralists, to establish diseases that were transmitted from livestock as well as establishing the antibiotics they used.

There will be transplanting of parasites and genes as experts would be going deep to root out the causes and get solutions, she said.

Professor Matthew Holden from the University of St. Andrews, who is the chief investigator, said antibiotic resistance had become a global problem but over the next three years, they would be focusing on East Africa to establish how patients accessed antibiotics and use.

They would also probe the operations of pharmacies operated, as some could be issuing drugs without prescriptions or incomplete doses.

"As time unfolds, records show that diseases are becoming harder and harder to treat. We will want to know how people obtain the antibiotics and use them.

In brief we want to establish what is going on in this part of the world in relation to antibiotics use and what kind are available here, so that we eventually stop bacteria being resistant or influence the people to change behaviour," the professor said.

Dr John Stelling from Boston Centre said many people were suffering due to antibiotics resistance, for which solutions would be derived from the findings of the study.

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