Experts stress urgency of addressing antimicrobial resistance

Experts stress urgency of addressing antimicrobial resistance
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Experts have emphasized the critical need to enhance disease surveillance and raise public awareness about rational antibiotic use to mitigate emergencies and combat the spread of antimicrobial resistance.

These discussions took place during a one-day conference titled "Building Resilience in a Changing World: The Role of Environmental Health in Addressing Climate Change and Antimicrobial Resistance."

The conference was organized by the Makerere University Environmental Health Students Association at the School of Public Health.

Dr. Joyce Moriku Kaducu, the State Minister in Charge of Primary Education, highlighted the urgency of scientific intervention and multi-sectoral collaboration to tackle antimicrobial resistance, which poses a significant global threat.

"People often self-diagnose and self-medicate without consulting healthcare providers. When experiencing fever, they assume it's due to malaria, when it could be caused by infections or viral illnesses. They purchase antimalarial drugs and antibiotics without proper testing or consultation," Dr. Kaducu explained.

She further elucidated the consequences of incomplete dosage and the development of resistance in the body. Over time, this resistance renders common antibiotics ineffective against infections. This, in turn, necessitates the use of more expensive second or third-line antibiotics, posing an economic burden.

The conference brought together over 300 students, researchers, media personnel, policymakers, and funders to discuss strategies for building resilience in a changing world, particularly regarding climate change and antimicrobial resistance, which are current global burdens.

Experts noted that human activities such as burning fossil fuels and deforestation contribute to the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, leading to global warming.

Climate change has far-reaching consequences beyond temperature changes, including shifts in ecosystems, weather patterns, and sea levels. Therefore, the conference aimed to address climate change through mitigation strategies and adaptation to evolving environmental conditions, with a primary focus on safeguarding public health.

Dr. David Musoke, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Disease Control and Environmental Health at Makerere University School of Public Health, emphasized the significance of the conference in addressing the implications of climate change on health and other areas.

He highlighted the increasing occurrence of floods, which were nonexistent in the past, as a clear impact of climate change. Without appropriate action, these floods will continue to escalate, causing severe health and societal effects.

Musoke also addressed the issue of antimicrobial resistance, emphasizing that the drugs used to treat common illnesses are no longer effective, necessitating advancements in medication.

Jabim Philliam, a student leader and member of the organizing committee, emphasized the importance of allocating more resources to prevention rather than cure. He stated that investing in preventive health measures would lead to improved health outcomes, reduced mortality and illness rates, and decreased dependency on hospitals. Ultimately, this approach would save substantial amounts of money, which could be redirected to other development initiatives such as education and community health.

The Makerere University Environmental Health Students Association (MUEHSA) was established in 2003 by students of Environmental Health Science at the School of Public Health, Makerere University. Its primary objective is to advocate for the interests of Environmental Health Science students and Environmental Health Practitioners, including Health Assistants, Health Inspectors, and Environmental Health Officers, in Uganda and internationally.

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