Kenyatta National Hospital unveils antibiotics usage guidelines

Written By: Claire Wanja

The guidelines, recently developed with support from global biopharmaceutical firm – MSD (Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp) have been designed to provide a standard practice platform for all health workers at KNH responsible for the dispensing and application of antibiotics.

The national referral hospital, Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) has taken the lead to develop clinical guidelines to curb potential antibiotics drug resistance.

The guidelines recently developed with support from global biopharmaceutical firm – MSD (Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp) have been designed to provide a standard practice platform for all health workers at KNH responsible for the dispensing and application of antibiotics.

The guidelines targeting key stakeholders including Physicians, Clinical Pharmacists, and nurses among others, will play a key role in minimizing antibiotic harm arising from drug overuse.

Speaking at the launch of the KNH Guide to Empiric Antimicrobial Therapy, Infectious Disease Specialist and Chair of the KNH Anti-Microbial Stewardship Team, Dr. Loice Ombajo, said the guidelines exclusively developed for the hospital will help improve service delivery.

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The guidelines have been developed by infectious disease experts at KNH in conjunction with a Scottish based antimicrobial specialist Dr. Andrew Seaton and supported by global biopharmaceutical firm – MSD (Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc. Kenilworth, NJ, USA) as part of KNH’s commitment to quality service delivery.

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MSD, is one of the largest pharmaceutical companies with a continued focus on anti-infective research and development. The firm develops treatments for serious infections and promote appropriate use of the products through the patient-centered antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) program globally.

According to MSD Country Lead Kenya, Mr. Hezbone Ayimba, the firm’s local AMS program is an attempt to rationalize the use of antimicrobials in the hospital setup by focusing on treatment guidelines based on local microbiology data of the hospital coupled with established principles of antimicrobial stewardship.

A member of the Kenya Association of Pharmaceutical Industry (KAPI) MSD, has been supporting local initiatives geared at advancing the AMS agenda.

“Antibiotic resistance occurs even with proper use of antibiotics, but widespread, inappropriate use accelerates resistance,” Ayimba said adding that, “In more developed countries, there are a number of contributing factors, such as over-the-counter sales of antibiotics, poor patient compliance, inappropriate selection of antibiotics and over prescribing.”

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Though developed for KNH, the guidelines, Dr. Ombajo said, can be easily updated and adapted for nationwide rollout.

“With the development of these guidelines, KNH is now well positioned to standardize clinical operations relating to antibiotics administration,” Dr. Ombajo said, adding that, “such standardization remains a critical component towards improving patients’ outcomes and reducing the incidences of antibiotic resistance.”

On his part, Scottish Infectious Diseases physician and Antibiotic stewardship expert Dr. Andrew Seaton reiterated the need to adopt the guidelines to curb growing cases of antibiotic resistance.

While presenting the Scottish experience, Dr. Seaton explained that Scotland has had similar guidelines for the last decade with positive impact.

“The main objective for formulating and updating these guidelines is to reduce variation in practice and get everyone doing the right thing,” Dr. Seaton said. “the overuse of antibiotics can cause harm by developing resistance,” he added.

According to the Kenya National Policy on Prevention and Containment of Antimicrobial Resistance, cases of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) are a global concern for both the Public Health and Agriculture Sectors.

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Globally it is projected that by 2050, the health consequences and economic costs of AMR are estimated at 10 million annual human fatalities and a 2 to 3.5 percent decrease (equivalent to USD 100 trillion) in global Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The AMR policy developed last year by the Ministry of Health confirms the need for immediate and urgent attention and action as the direct consequences of infection with resistant microorganisms can be severe including longer illnesses, increased mortality, prolonged hospital stays and increased costs.

The indirect impact of AMR spans beyond health risks and has wide implications on the development agenda. AMR will drain global and national economies with increased economic losses due to reduced productivity caused by sickness of both humans and animals. Therefore, AMR increases morbidity, mortality, and health care costs, threatens health security, food security and negatively impacts on trade and economies.


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