Eritrea’s Pharmacovigillance Center has been carrying out numerous awareness raising campaigns against antimicrobial resistance at a national level since 2017.The Center has since then been registering remarkable achievement in terms of reporting new findings. Professionalism of the reporters and their comprehensive reports as well as the extensive campaigns to increase public awareness have been the reasons of the success. The Center, in collaboration with the Ministries of Agriculture, Health and other relevant institutions, is planning to conduct at a national level Antimicrobial Resistance Awareness Week for the third time from 25 to 30 November 2019. Eritrea Profile has conducted a brief interview with Mulugeta Russom, Head of Eritrea’s Pharmacovigillance Center, in connection with the upcoming Antimicrobial Resistance Awareness Raising Week.
- Thank you for your time. Please enlighten us about antibiotics and some of the challenges?
Just seventy years back, antibiotics weren’t introduced to the world. We are talking about a time when any type of disease could be life threatening. The simplest wound would kill a person. This is considered one of the main challenges for the modernization of medical science as well. In 1927, there was a major breakthrough when Penicillin became the first antibiotic drug to be discovered. This discovery opened doors for the advancement of the medical science.
In 2015, The WHO assembly recommended that member states tackle the issue at a country level. Countries were endorsed by the WHO to have their own initiatives. As part of that initiative, in 2017, the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with different partners teamed up to have the national action plan to raise the community’s awareness. It took 18 months to develop the action plan, which is going to be launched during the anti-microbial ceremony at the end of this month.
- Would you please mention some of the strategies of the Global Action Plan?
The action plan carries out five objectives, one of which is what I just mentioned above, raising awareness and educating the public, which was one of the WHO’s pieces of advice to the state members. Based on this recommendation Eritrea introduced the antibiotic awareness campaigns in November 17, 2017, which is the date we dedicate to the antibiotic awareness campaign. Not only do we remember the date but we also carry out numerous campaigns regarding the day. As a result, in 2017, we were able to reach 60 thousand people during the seminar. This was just one method to continue the awareness raising program. We also have used various methods to reach out the community and convey our messages through media outlets across the country. The campaigns showed good results in reaching out communities even at the remotest places. The reason for this remarkable achievement is the commitment of the government, the collaboration we have with the Eritrean Pharmaceutical Association and the community’s unreserved support.
- What’s planned for the week-long event?
We have established a local organizing committee from different ministries. We are planning to have a huge campaign that will go on from the 25th of November till the 30th. To mention some of the activities, presentations will be given and the National Action Plan to combat Anti-microbial resistance (AMR), which was developed by stakeholders, is expected to be signed by all the Minsters, which is one of the significant programs of the event.
- Have all the campaigns reached the desired goal in raising the community’s awareness?
We’re making progress and it seems promising. We have surveyed about 2500 subjects all over the country in a study at a house hold level. Out of those studied, 37% accurately remember the messages. That is one of the positive things we considered.
- Is there anything you would like to say at the end?
Yes. For the health care professionals, I would like to remind them that we have to be responsible in prescribing antibiotics when it’s really required. And to the public, it is dangerous to take antibiotics without prescription and to use the same type of antibiotic for diseases that require different types of medicine. On top of that, people need to be cautious about how to dispose their left over meds. Such meds should be taken back to medical sectors so that they would be disposed the right way by the Ministry of Health or medical center.