By IHP, Nov 17 2017 10:10AM
Antibiotics are a critical tool for treating bacterial infections and are especially important for vulnerable individuals such as the elderly, young babies and people with weakened immune systems. This World Antibiotics Awareness Week we focus on the rise of antibiotic resistance, the use of antibiotics in resource-poor settings and the work of IHP.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security and development today. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when microorganisms (such as bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites) change when exposed to antimicrobial drugs. As a result of this resistance, the medicines become ineffective and infections persist in the body, increasing the risk of spreading to others. AMR has been reported at dangerously high levels in all parts of the world, threatening our ability to treat common infectious diseases, and a risk of increased mortality and disability world-wide. The WHO has warned that without urgent action we are heading for a post-antibiotic era, in which even a common infection or injury could be deadly.
One factor that contributes to the rise in AMR is the use of poor quality medicines. In many parts of the world where counterfeit or sub-standard medicines are common, people may have no choice but to take the treatments available to them. But in a medicine where the Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) has been reduced or degraded, deliberately or through production error, this can enable the microorganisms to develop resistance and replicate, to the detriment of both the individual sick patient and the wider effectiveness of the drug.
IHP works towards ensuring that people in vulnerable and disaster-hit communities have access to safe medicines; that medics and other health workers can be confident that the treatments they are prescribing are going to help, not hurt, those in need. The medicines donated through IHP are high-quality medicines, meeting stringent safety standards, which have never left the supply chain.
Case Study from Uganda
A group of medics recently took a pack of IHP medicines to support their hernia repair work in a hospital in Luweeru, Southern Uganda. One patient they came across was in need of surgery to treat large multiple hernias, but was unable to have the surgery he needed because of several infected wounds that had not healed following a motorbike accident. This situation had left him unable to work. He was given IHP antibiotics, and within just a few days his wounds had cleared enough to enable him to have the long-awaited surgery. The team of medics were extremely pleased with the result, with the fact that such a simple treatment of a high quality drug could make such a difference to the life and wellbeing of an individual in need.
“We would like to re-iterate our thanks for the opportunity to take the [IHP] health packs with us. The huge benefit that these will have had and will continue to have on the community of Luweeru and those around is huge”
Dr Laura McClelland, visiting medic to Uganda
This is one example of the way that IHP medicines, particularly good quality antibiotics, are impacting people globally. IHP supports the responsible donation of medicines through our partners, in line with good practice around appropriate use of antibiotics.
“The world is facing significant health challenges: complex crises, environmental change, inequalities and rising pressure on struggling health systems. Through partnership across the sector and through provision of high quality medicines, IHP is able to support doctors and patients in vulnerable settings to avoid some of the pitfalls around antibiotic resistance and be a part of the solution in overcoming this global issue”.
Adele Paterson, IHP CEO