I am delighted to be here with you to Flag-off this year’s World Antimicrobial Awareness Week celebration in Nigeria.

The World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) is an annual event held every November since 2015. The main aim of the week is to raise awareness on the health threats posed by Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) as well as to promote good practices that limits the emergence and spread of resistant infections globally.

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).

In Nigeria, the WAAW celebration started in 2017 with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Nigeria Center for Disease Control championing the celebration under the One Health platform. The week is usually being marked with awareness creation and sensitization activities such as symposium, road shows, media engagements, school debates while at the same time targeting various stakeholders that are critical to the tackling of the AMR scourge in the country.

Antimicrobial Resistance occurs when disease causative agents such as bacteria become resistant to the actions of antimicrobials which hitherto they were known to be susceptible.

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. 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.

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, humans we are always self-medicating with inappropriate amounts of antibiotics to try to get well.

The World Antimicrobial Awareness Week aims to increase awareness about the problem and the steps we all need to take to tackle it.

We all have a role to play!

AMR is a One Health Issue –that must be tackled at the human – animal – environment interface. Today, I call on all of us to join this campaign to stop the overuse and misuse of antibiotics

As a government and policy-maker, we would take the leadership in getting the right policy in place, to ensure that antibiotics are not misused and overused.

It is also very important to emphasize that the veterinary professionals should 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

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

For the pharmaceutical companies, there is need to be responsible and accountable in the marketing, supply and distribution of antimicrobials.

And finally, for the general public, 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.

In conclusion, antimicrobial resistance is one of the issues on which we will be judged by future generations. Our actions now will shape animal and public health for decades to come.

And on this note, I wish to formally launch the 2020 WAAW celebration in Nigeria. I will unveil a billboard displaying messages on what we need to know about AMR and what we can do to prevent it. Kindly endeavor to take home the messages and share with your loved ones.

Thank you