Tanzania: Govt - Stop Selling Antibiotics to Patients Without Prescription

THE government has warned Pharmacies and other drug dispensing outlets to stop selling antibiotics to any patient without a doctor's prescription, because such practice exacerbates antimicrobial resistance and causes loss to the government.

Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Prof Abel Makubi said that improper use of antibiotics poses a threat to public health .

"Antimicrobial resistance is costly because when diseases are not responding to the drugs, it will force the government to look for others, which might be expensive," Prof Makubi said, at the launch of the World Antimicrobial Awareness Week in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday.

He said that the government has already approved the regulations governing pharmacies and other drug dispensing outlets to ensure that they abide by the laws while conducting the business.

Prof Makubi noted further that the regulations are aimed at protecting the public health by making sure that all dispensing outlets adhere to the regulations.

He said the World Antimicrobial Awareness Week aims at increasing awareness to the public on the antimicrobial resistance and encouraging only appropriate use of drugs.

Prof Makubi added that appropriate use of medical drugs includes sticking to only doctors' prescriptions, where to get them, the duration of the patient medication among others.

"However, people should use antibiotics according to their doctors' prescriptions and avoid buying such drugs without being recommended by any medical personnel," he pointed out.

Elaborating, he detailed that antimicrobials resistance differs and depends on the type of a medication preferred, adding that the country for instance, was using Chloroquine to treat malaria, but it developed resistance by 50 per cent and had to be withdrawn and replaced by Suphadoxine - Pyrimethamine (SP) that was also removed because equally was not treating.

Prof Makubi further noted that when drugs develop resistance by 50 per cent, it is withdrawn from treating such disease(s), because patients will no longer respond to the medication.

Chief Pharmacist Mr Daudi Msasi said that the government has already endorsed the Pharmacy (Prescription Handling and Control) Regulations since June this year.

He said the respective authorities had started holding accountable pharmacists who go against the laws.

Mr Msasi said that penalties outlined in the regulations include among others fines, being jailed or closing down the business by revoking their licenses.

World Health Organization Representative Dr Tigest Mengestu said that antimicrobial resistance is made worse by misuse and abuse of antibiotics in humans and farm animals.

She said that in spite of limited data in African region, a recent study shows the emergence of resistance to artemisinin as an antimicrobial used in treating Malaria .

Dr Mengestu said that globally, one in ten medicines is estimated to be substandard or falsified and the African region worst affected than any other parts of the world.

"In markets and street corners, people are buying antibiotics of unassured quality without prescriptions... antimicrobials are most frequently reported substandard and falsefied medicines and these substandard products are key drivers of antimicrobial resistance," Dr Mengestu noted.

For that matter, she called upon the governments, partners and private sector to work together to secure safe , effective antibiotics for generations to come,including investing in water, sanitation and hygiene infrastructure and limiting the use of antibiotics in livestock and aquafarming

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