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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Physician seeks enhanced partnership on new antibiotics, vaccines

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By Oluwafunke Ishola

A public health physician, Dr Kodjo Soroh, has urged governments, industries and public health communities to collaborate toward enhancing development of innovative antibiotics and vaccines to assist curb the spread of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).

Soroh, the Regional Oncology Medical Lead, Africa and Middle East, Pfizer, made the plea in commemoration of the World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) in Lagos.

Antimicrobial resistance happens when germs like bacteria and fungi develop the ability to defeat the drugs designed to kill them.

Soroh said that COVID-19 pandemic had shown the significance of fast-tracking creative solutions to tackle the spread of infectious diseases and AMR.

He said COVID-19 had threatened the progress so far made against antimicrobial resistance, thus making AMR an even more prominent threat.

According to him, AMR is widely recognised as one of the biggest threats to global health, with the potential of affecting anyone at any age, in any country.

He said: “1.27 million deaths per year are directly attributable and almost five million deaths per year are associated with AMR.

“Without action by governments, industries and societies, AMR is expected to cause 10 million deaths globally each year by 2050.”

Soroh said that the Global Research on Antimicrobial Resistance report showed that death rates caused directly by AMR were highest in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

He said tackling the global problem of AMR requires that people around the world understand the problem and factors causing it, noting that the cost of AMR to the economy was significant.

“In addition to death and disability, prolonged illness leads to increased healthcare costs and results in lower productivity.

“As a result, global GDP reductions are estimated at one per cent – three per cent by 2030, further threatening economic development.

“That’s why this year, at Pfizer, we encourage all individuals, societies, industries, governments, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to come together to Stop Superbugs and Help Protect Tomorrow,” the expert said.

Soroh said that Pfizer was committed to a fairer future and was taking every action to drive more equitable access to high-quality, safe and effective healthcare solutions.

This, he said, was done through Pfizer’s first-of-its-kind initiative “An Accord for a Healthier World” that pledges to make on-patent medicines and vaccines available on a not-for-profit basis in 45 lower-income countries and to improve the health of 1.2 billion people.

Soroh noted that the market potential for new antibiotics was limited, due to the steep costs of antimicrobial development, high risk of failure, long lead times and growing awareness of the need to limit their use.

“Despite the challenging antimicrobial R & D landscape, Pfizer continues to evaluate opportunities and partnerships to expand our pipelines.

“Pfizer is one of the few large research-based pharmaceutical companies still active in research and development (R&D) for anti-infectives and works with partners to close critical prevention and treatment gaps in infectious diseases around the globe,” he said.

Soroh said that Pfizer actively engaged a multi-faceted and evidence-based approach to ensure responsible use of anti-infectives across the local healthcare settings.

He said these efforts included health system strengthening, surveillance, infection prevention, including vaccination, policy advocacy, innovative tools, diagnostics, education, research, health equity and patient engagement.

“Pfizer has one of the world’s largest AMR surveillance website platforms – the ATLAS database, that provides physicians and the global health community with open access to data on bacterial sensitivity to various antibiotics.

“And emerging resistance patterns in 83 countries, including those with less specialised health networks,” he said. (NAN)

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