Pharmaceutical Society of Zambia president David Banda has warned against the abuse of antibiotics in veterinary services because farm products that are consumed by humans are promoting antibiotic resistance.

And Banda says there is need to closely strengthen and monitor the habit of prescribing antibiotics in public and private health facilities and establish an “anti-microbial stewardship”.

In an advisory note, Banda stated that there was a lot of empirical prescribing of antibiotics in clinics, leading to overuse of the drug, which he said had multifaceted effects.

He revealed that the abuse of antibiotics also stretches into veterinary services, a situation he says is promoting antibiotic resistance after humans consume farm products.

“There is overuse of antibiotics in the veterinary services. Almost everyone is keeping chickens without proper veterinary advice. The antibiotics are recklessly used at that level, and the farm products are then consumed by Zambians contributing to antibiotic resistance. We need to curb the use of antibiotics in this industry. The consumers should take heed the pharmacists’ advice. Let’s not consume antibiotics anyhow. Many times, the pharmacist will recommend other readies before the antibiotic, of which clients refuse,” Banda disclosed.

He cautioned drug consumers to avoid taking antibiotics anyhow as it affects drug resistance.

“We also need to combat counterfeit medicines through strengthening of ZAMRA to identify quickly the counterfeits. Without proper laboratory services at ZAMRA, the fight against anti-microbial resistance will be in vein. We call upon all the practitioners, especially pharmacy personnel, to report all suspicious medicines to ZAMRA for further scrutiny. To our members, we understand drug resistance very well, hence let’s advise the public correctly and encourage them to visit the health facilities. Let’s not entertain the irrational prescribing, which promotes antibiotic resistance. Let’s work as a team to save the availability antibiotics,” he stated.

And Banda suggested the establishment of an “anti-microbial stewardship” in all health facilities as a disciplinary approach to the problem.

“Anti-microbial resistance causes are multifaceted; it spans from prescribing to use. If you go to any clinic and see the amount of unnecessary prescriptions on antibiotics, you will be shocked at the amount of prescriptions with antibiotics. The huge budget of the MoH (Ministry of Health) goes to antibiotics. Our prescribing habits need to be strengthened and monitored closely. Even clients, when they visit retail pharmacies, they will tell you that the flu they had last time they went to the clinic, they were given an antibiotic, hence they will demand for that in retail pharmacies. There is also a lot of empirical prescribing in our clinics, hence leading to overuse of antibiotics. Let’s establish anti-microbial stewardship in all health facilities and encourage [a] multi-disciplinary approach to [the] problem where pharmacists, doctors and nurses work as a team. We need also to utilise and strengthen the laboratory services for rational use,” Banda appealed.

He stated that there were inadequate prescribers and dispensers in health centres, which were mostly managed by unqualified personnel.

“Human capital is needed. We have inadequate prescribers and dispensers in our country as most health facility pharmacies are managed by unqualified personnel, hence reckless dispensing without questioning. Therefore, let MoH employ more pharmacists and pharmacy technologists in all health facilities. The private hospitals also need to employ qualified pharmacy personnel for judicious use of anti-microbial uses or medicines utilizations in general,” stated Banda.