The Hon Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono has called for concerted efforts by relevant agencies to promote good practices that limit the emergence and spread of resistant infections globally. He stated that the World Antimicrobial Awareness Week is aimed at increasing awareness about the problem and the “steps we all need to take to tackle it. We all have a role to play”.

The Minister disclosed this during the official flag-off of the 2020 World Antimicrobial Awareness week celebration in Nigeria in his office, Thursday, 19/11/2020. He explained that Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) occurs when disease causative agents such as bacteria become resistant to the actions of antimicrobials which hitherto were known to be susceptible.

Nanono noted that “Antibiotics use in Agriculture has been found to be a major driver of AMR with consequences on human health, animal health, plant health and food safety. Livestock farmers use antibiotics as growth promoters and egg boosters, especially in places where regulation is poor and antibiotics can be purchased without a prescription. Also, as humans, we are always self-medicating with inappropriate amounts of antibiotics to try to get well”.

He pointed out that, “As a government and policy-maker, we would take the lead in getting the right policy in place, to ensure that antibiotics are not misused and overused”.
The Minister appealed to Nigerian farmers not to use antibiotics to promote growth in animals. “To our Farmers, don’t use antibiotics to promote growth in animals. Antibiotics should only be used when prescribed by a Veterinary professional, for the duration indicated and withdrawal period must be observed. Vaccinations, biosecurity measures and good animal husbandry practices will reduce infections and use of antibiotics in livestock”.

He also urged the veterinary professionals to “ use antimicrobials responsibly and prudently especially in food-producing animals. Antibiotics should only be prescribed if they are really needed to treat infections in animals”.
Also to the pharmaceutical companies, the Minister advised that “there is need to be responsible and accountable in the marketing, supply and distribution of antimicrobials.

To the general public, Nanono counselled on the need for personal hygiene. According to him, “let us wash our hands regularly and thoroughly to stop germs from spreading. Don’t pressurize your doctor to prescribe antibiotics if they’re not needed. And if you really do need them, make sure to always follow your doctor’s advice on the right course of treatment”.

The Minister expressed the need for urgency in tackling the spread, stating, “We can no longer ignore the urgency and gravity of this issue. If we don’t tackle this urgently, decades of advances in health and medicine are at risk of being undone”.

He further said “Resistance to antibiotics and other antimicrobial drugs is one of the most significant threats to global health, food security, and global development in general. Antimicrobial resistance occurs naturally, but misuse of antimicrobials in humans and animals is accelerating the process. Globally, we are running out of effective antibiotics.
In his remarks, the representative of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) Country Representative to Nigeria, Mr David Fehintola said that “the antimicrobial resistance is happening here and now and it is affecting us all. He said for many years, antimicrobial medicines have been overused and misused, FAO and WHO reports indicate that around the world, people, plants and animals are dying from infections that cannot be treated even with our strongest antimicrobial treatments”.

David further stated that FAO and WHO estimate that currently, at least 700 000 people die globally every year due to drug-resistant diseases, within the next ten years, antimicrobial use for livestock alone is projected to nearly double to keep pace with the demands of our growing human population.
In her presentation, the representative of the NCDC Dr Tochi Okwor stated that the emergence and spread of drug-resistant pathogens continue to threaten our ability to treat common infections, in recent times medicines used to treat many types of infections and diseases are no longer effective because of antimicrobial resistance. He said that Nigeria has achieved significant milestones in improving AMR governance, surveillance and increasing awareness on the threats in the last four years.

Earlier on his address the Director, Department of Veterinary and Pest Control Department, Dr Olaniran Alabi appreciated the Honorable Minister, FAO and the WHO for their kind support and gesture for making it a reality and hope we will learn from antimicrobial use and run with it, to create awareness on its right use in order to make our food safe for consumption, our environment better and improve our public health system.

The World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) is an annual event held every November since 2015. The week was instituted by the tripartite organizations – World Health Organization (WHO), World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO).