In a proactive move to address the rising concern of microbial resistance attributed to the improper disposal of pharmaceuticals, an ambitious initiative has been launched in Ho.
The primary objective is to counter the escalating microbial resistance caused by the presence of antibiotics in the environment.
A consortium of institutions spearheads this crucial program, featuring the University College London, the University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS), the Ho Teaching Hospital, and the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA).
The cornerstone of this initiative lies in the distribution of specialized bins to health facilities and strategic locations, facilitating the collection of unused medicines from the public.
The launch event occurred at the Out-Patients Department of the Ho Teaching Hospital, with Prof Kwame Ohene Buabeng, Dean of the UHAS School of Pharmacy and head of the nation's technical working committee on antimicrobial resistance, chairing the proceedings.
Addressing the gathering, Prof. Buabeng emphasized the magnitude of the issue, stating, “We're dealing with a problem bigger than COVID – a silent pandemic.”
He highlighted the continuous introduction of tonnes of medications into the environment, contributing to the proliferation of resistant mutants in humans and animals.
The professor underscored the risk of exposure to resistant microbes in the environment and expressed confidence that the collection program would help reverse this alarming trend.
Dr Cornelius Dodoo, Team Lead of the School of Pharmacy on the project, revealed that the University had collaborated with the Ho Teaching Hospital for three years, culminating in the establishment of an antimicrobial management committee this year—a significant milestone.
Dr Dodoo outlined a “robust” antimicrobial strategy, emphasizing its necessity in other health facilities across the region.
Collaborating with the pharmaceutical sector, the program aims to ensure the supply of quality drugs to the public while actively engaging communities in safe disposal practices.
Dr Dodoo announced plans for the introduction of house-to-house collection of drugs, further enhancing the reach and impact of the initiative.
Officials from the FDA emphasized the prevalence of unwanted medicines in households, cautioning against the common practice of storing drugs for future use.
Mr. Gorden Akurugu, the Volta Regional Head of the FDA, highlighted that the recall of drugs would enhance the Authority's monitoring of drug use and authenticity. He called for public support to create a safer environment.
Commending the stakeholders for their commitment, Prof. Harry Tagbor, Pro Vice Chancellor of UHAS, stressed the need for the program to reach all segments of the population. He advised considering the patronage of health facilities in the design approach.
Dr John Tampouri, CEO of the Ho Teaching Hospital, reiterated the severity of microbial resistance to antibiotics as a risk factor to disease control and a growing challenge to health delivery.
Expressing concern over the ongoing struggle for effective medicines, he called for the proper use of antibiotics as a key performance indicator in delivering quality health care.
Amidst the discussions, there were suggestions to design collection bins in a way that discourages the theft of returned drugs, ensuring the integrity and success of the disposal initiative.