Misuse of Antibiotics in Nigeria and Antibacterial Resistance

Misuse of Antibiotics in Nigeria and Antibacterial Resistance


            The term ‘misuse’ refers to the usage of a substance for other purposes rather than the intended purpose (Allison, Higginson & Martin, 2016).  The antibacterial drugs (antibiotics) are used to treat bacterial diseases. In Nigeria, people have been noted to be using them to treat viral diseases. The scenario falls well under the description of misuse since the drugs are being used for other purposes other than their intended purpose. The misuse in turn, causes antibiotic resistance which renders all drugs used to treat bacterial diseases useless (Allison et al., 2016). Research has indicated that over 10 million individuals will die of increased antibiotic resistance by the year 2050 if the situation is not put under control.


            Although the situation is relatively more pronounced in Nigeria, it is a global issue that has raised a significant amount of concern. The most common form of misuse is the act of not finishing prescribed doses (Uria, Gandra & Laximinary, 2016). The bacteria that survived the treatment will now develop resistance to that particular form of drug and stronger variants of antibiotics may be needed. The situation becomes worse when the individual who has not finished his /her prescribed dosage of drugs resorts to ‘lending’ another individual who has complained of the same illness or symptoms (Uria, et al., 2016). The dosage given is also insufficient hence the bacteria in the second individual may also gain some resistance as well.

In Nigeria specifically, the reason behind this peculiar behavior is the lack of funds or appropriate doctor prescriptions to gain access to the drugs. Most people end up employing the easy way out and gain the drugs from their friends or relatives. It is believed that the individuals resort to this act because they are mostly unaware of the consequences that come with their action (Uria, et al., 2016). So, the misuse can be attributed to a lack of awareness. Other individuals are well aware of the implications but they chose to ignore them. This is an act of negligence which has farfetched undesirable outcomes in the future. Negligence is also well noted in situations where an individual fails to finish the entire prescribed dosage. This is due to the fact that they experience relief after consuming a mere portion of the dosage. In areas of poverty, this act is most prevalent. In developing countries, economies are at their lowest and most individuals are unable to afford relatively high priced drugs. They hence resort to taking someone else’s prescription as the easy way out.

Another common form of misuse which has been present for a significant amount of time is the use of the antibiotics to treat viral diseases. This is a common misconception as the drugs are intended to treat bacterial diseases and not viral diseases. Using the drug for the wrong purposes rather than it’s intended one forms the basis of misuse.

Effects of Misuse

The misuse of antibacterial drugs, as already stated above, leads to bacterial resistance (Uria, et al., 2016). It is common knowledge that bacteria and other microorganisms are in a constant cycle of mutation in order to suit themselves for survival in their respective environments. If an individual fails to finish his or her prescribed dosage of drugs, the surviving bacteria may develop resistance to that particular drug hence future treatments with that drug may not be as effective. In the event that the disease is transmitted to someone else, the new host will become acclaimed with the resistant variant of the infection, hence similar drugs will be shown to be ineffective. If the trend continues for a significant amount of time, the bacteria in question will develop resistance to all forms of treatment being used against them (Friedman, Temkin & Carmeli, 2016). Incurable diseases will be on the rise and number of deaths will be at an alarming increase.

What is being done to Counter the Issue

According to insights gained from the World Health Organization (WHO). The best way to put the measure under control is the spread of awareness alone (Holmes Moore & Sundsfjord, 2016). As already been stated above, a large majority of individuals engage in this misuse since they are unaware of the implications that come with their actions. The spread of awareness is hence an effective method of keeping the situation under control. The awareness spread comes with techniques on how to utilize drugs hence ensuring that the dosages are finished. Remainder apps on mobile and smartphones are also developed which remind individuals to take their drugs should they fail to miss their designated dosage times (Holmes, et al., 2016).

Efforts are also underway to make antibiotic drugs to be more affordable to the masses (Holmes, et al., 2016). This outlaw the reason that most of the drugs are unaffordable to the public. The target areas include the poverty stricken third world counters since these are the places where drug misuse is more commonly heard off when compared to other regions. Making the drugs affordable coupled with awareness spread is the best means so far to alleviate the spread of the antibacterial drug misuse. Another way that is not currently being implemented although it serves to be an effectuate method is the intervention of doctors on various health establishment (Holmes, et al., 2016). The doctors may follow up on the patients from time to time, enquiring or issuing reminders to the patients to remember to take their drugs. This is by far a very effective method that may help to keep the situation under control. All the above-mentioned practices will work wonders in actually keeping the epidemic under control. Drug resistance of bacteria is something that is well under significant research and it is hoped that a solution will be developed soon that will help keep the resistance at bay (Holmes, et al., 2016).


Insight from this study was obtained from a particular secondary source. This source pertains to an earlier research done with the aim of finding a way around antibacterial drug resistance in Nigeria. This article dubbed “Experts Warn Against Misuse of Antibiotics”          is written by Tayo Ordeola who is an experienced medical practitioner. It is published under the Guardian Periodical. The reason the article is chosen is due to its relatively recent date of publication (January 2017). The article is located at the following link: https://t.guardian.ng/features/experts-warn-against-misuse-of-antibiotics/. The inclusion and exclusion criteria include individuals who are suffering from bacterial diseases all over Nigeria.


According to Ordeola in the article, misuse of antibacterial drugs has raised a lot of concern and it is close to becoming a global phenomenon. It has already put countries such as Nigeria at risk. She also notes that the abuse of antibiotics can well be acclaimed to the access of antibacterial drugs without any form of a prescription from the relevant medical practitioners. This needs to be stopped and access to drugs need only to be permitted in the event that one bears a prescription from the relevant medical practitioners.

She also notes that the current difficulty in treatment of people suffering from tuberculosis can well be attributed to the abuse of such drugs. This has been a recent trend that has raised a lot of concern in the recent years. Tuberculosis is a well-known bacterial disease that has a high death toll. Ordeola notes that the recent difficulty while treating it can be well attributed to the resistance the bacteria has developed as a result of abuse of the drugs.


The findings can be summarized as answers to the following research questions:

  • Why are People Misusing Antibiotics in Nigeria?

As already stated above, individuals are misusing antibiotics due to the access they are given to acquire the antibiotic drugs. This is the main reason in Nigeria but negligence and the lack of awareness have relatively huge roles to play also.

  • How are People Misusing Antibiotics in Nigeria?

Individuals are misusing antibiotics using means such as using them without a proper doctor’s prescription. Failing to adhere to such standards is the basis of abuse. Individuals are also ‘lending’ drugs to other individuals who complain of the same illnesses and symptoms. Failing to finish the dosage and finally using them to treat viral diseases.

  • What is already in Place to Minimize Misuse

The factors that are in place include awareness spread where individuals are made to be aware of the implications that come with this form of antibacterial drug abuse. The awareness is initiated by the world health organization.


Nigeria is involved in the antibacterial drug misuse for many reasons. These include poverty, the emergence of traditional beliefs, and misunderstanding of the antibiotic drugs. Efforts are underway by NAFDAC to ensure that the misuse is kept at bay. It is in partnership with the world health organization.


Allison DG, Higginson P, Martin S., (2016). Antibiotic resistance awareness: a public        engagement approach for all pharmacists. Int J Pharm Pract

Alvarez-Uria G, Gandra S, Laxminarayan R., (2016). Poverty and prevalence of antimicrobial      resistance in invasive isolates. Int J Infect Dis

Friedman, ND, Temkin E. & Carmeli Y., (2016). The negative impact of antibiotic resistance.        Clin Microbiol Infect May; 22(5):416-22

Holmes AH, Moore LS, Sundsfjord A, et al., (2016). Understanding the mechanisms and drivers of antimicrobial resistance. Lancet 2016 Jan 9; 387(10014):176-87

Tayo Ordeola, (2012). ““Experts Warn Against Misuse of Antibiotics” The Guardian.

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