]The Ministry of Health in 2012 partnered Action on Antibiotic Resistance (ReACT) to engage Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) for community action on responsible use of antibiotics as part of its effort to stem the tide on antibiotic resistance in Ghana.
This partnership in a project themed ‘’ Towards national and regional policy platforms to manage antibiotic resistance – engaging civil society organizations for social mobilization, health education and communication’’ aims at empowering CSOs with the necessary information on antibiotics that will ensure change in attitude, knowledge and practices on antibiotics use and resistance. The CSOs will serve as channels through which this information will be communicated to the community by including antibiotic and antibiotic resistance themes in their health promotion activities.
About 30 members of LAPAG, a partner implementing CSO with members spread across the country received training in a one-day trainer of trainers workshop organized by the leadership of the CSOs with technical support from the Ministry of Health.
The objective of the workshop was to train participants to be resource persons in educating, counseling and training others in the community about the safe use of antibiotics in order to reduce antibiotic resistance.
The National Chairperson, Lady Pharm Yvonne Y. Esseku, in welcoming participants entreated members to take the training session very serious in order to be very informed about the menace of antimicrobial resistance. She added that participants will be the resource persons to educate their various communities.
Mr Brian Asare, a Programme Officer of the Ghana National Drugs Programme and a management member of the CSOs project, led the participants through the results of a KABP survey conducted on LAPAG members to set the whole training for the workshop in perspective. He said that the research highlighted some of the challenges facing various categories of the population with respect to the development of resistance by bacteria. He noted that although the members of LAPAG interviewed during the research showed a high technical understanding of the majority of the issues discussed, there were some areas which required some further clarification. It is in respond to those challenges and also to equip the members of LAPAG to provide sound technical support to the community and other CSOs that the workshop is being undertaken.
Dr Kwame Buabeng, a Senior Lecturer at the College of Health Sciences, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology facilitated the sessions. He took participants through microbial world with emphasis on bacteria and viruses, antibiotics, antibiotic resistance, and responsible use of antibiotics among others.
During the training he engaged participants in discussing what the common practices they experience in their community with respect to antibiotic use. This was to ensure that participants understood the exercise and be equipped with the necessary information to educate others.
Some of the reasons stated for antibiotics abuse include- non-compliance, improper storage and wrong route of administration, language barrier, misdiagnosis and polypharmacy. Some of the safety issues raised about antibiotic abuse were: treatment failure, increased cost of treatment, the use of highly toxic medicines as alternatives and negative effect on the unborn babies in pregnancy.
Some of the concerns raised and the suggestions for improvement made during the training included:
• The public health issues on antibiotics resistance need to be handled with care.
• Pharmacists need to be involved actively in preventing the problem of antibiotics resistance
• The need to recruit more pharmacists into the health system to ensure access to professional health advice on medicines especially in the rural and hard to reach areas
• It was noted that, laws or policies about medicines are available but there is the need for strict enforcement by the mandated regulators
• Pharmacists should be more involved in the management of vaccines and other public health medicines especially those that border on the use of antibiotics for effective monitoring and supervision
• Call for regular documentation and reporting of Adverse Effects of medicines to the appropriate authorities
At the end of the training participants agreed that, due to the sensitive nature of antibiotics and resistance, a communiqué be prepared to inform government that after the workshop training, it has been established that pharmacists are very important in the proper use of antibiotics hence the need to employ more pharmacists in our hospitals, especially for hard to reach areas.
Secondly, the Pharmacists’ professional body should develop a standard format for documentation of adverse events in the community pharmacy practice.
In conclusion, the Coordinator to the ReACT –CSOs project Ghana, Mr George Hedidor called on participants to put the knowledge and the skills acquired to use in the community as this will go a long way to preserve the effectiveness of the few affordable and effective antibiotics that we have for now and future generations.
The immediate past Chairperson of LAPAG, Eunice Akosua Ofosua Amoako encouraged members to be available and make time for further community work on this project.
ReACT-CSOs Project Coordinator