Pesticide resistance is the world's most common epidemic. Tanzania, like the rest of the world, is largely suffering from this epidemic of anti-drug resistance.
The challenge is said to be increasing and costing public health and economies globally, as it is being recognized as a pandemic that threatens and costs a significant number of human lives.
It is estimated that if concrete measures are not taken, the epidemic will kill 10 million people a year by 2050, as an assessment conducted in 2019 showed the presence and death of around 1.27 million people, which were directly caused by drug-resistant pathogens.
The death toll is higher than those who died of HIV or malaria.
Resistance to pesticides is caused by the arbitrary use of anti-fungal drugs in humans and animals without the advice of health professionals, using drugs without conducting laboratory tests to determine the correct medicine, not completing doses at the direction of health professionals.
The number of anti-fungal drugs in the country is estimated at 62.3% and the prevalence of resistance in the human health sector is 59.8%.
The estimates are thought to be higher in the livestock and fisheries sectors, where studies show 90 percent of pastoralists are using anti-fungal drugs to treat animals rather than vaccines.
Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS) lecturer Professor Mecky Matee says he has researched the resistance of pesticides to infectious diseases treated with antibiotics.
He says the parasites that are grown by patients are 30 to 60 percent more likely to be drug resistant.
Professor Matee says resistant parasites are found in every department including humans, animals and the environment.
He also says drug abuse is happening nationwide with people buying prescription drugs without certification, not completing doses and selling drugs without an end in use.
He says 30 percent of the drugs sold in pharmacies are questionable as they have no end of use or manufacturers that contribute to the resistance to the parasite.
Professor Matee says the use of antibiotics for animals including cattle, chickens and others that are eaten contributes to the spread of the parasite.
"Research we conducted last year shows that chickens slaughtered in Dar es Salaam markets have used antibiotics especially volatile in the days before slaughter so the consumer will not only experience resistance to the drug but also contribute to other health problems.
"If someone is attacked by these parasites, it is not easy to treat them because they are packed into our environment and to animals as well, so in order to solve these challenges all sectors should participate in research that will show the causes of the spread of these parasites," explains Professor Matee.
He says there must be a strategic plan to keep all sectors connected, as studies show that cooperation between animal, human and wildlife experts is 10 to 15 percent, so efforts must be made.
He also says other efforts are needed to ensure they educate the public on the proper use of medicine, get the advice of a doctor and doctors follow the advice of laboratory experts as they are the ones who have the ability to know what the patient is and what medication to treat otherwise the resistance will continue.
The head of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology Dr Agricola Joachim says the drug resistant parasites are found in various areas, including furniture in hospitals or health facilities.
He says a patient can go to the hospital with one illness and because of the lack of hygiene, they develop resistance that causes other diseases.
Dr Joachim says the hospital environment even under the floor is present, so patients are not washed hands and clean water and soap spreads the germs.
These parasites can cause a variety of diseases including pneumonia, stomach diseases or blood clots.
"When you go to greet a patient in the hospital you can take pathogens or take parasites because of insanity," says Joachim.
He says pesticide resistant parasites can be present in water sources if there is no control over toilets in the sense of sewage flow into water currents.
He says the water is also used to water the vegetables that humans use and are advised not to be too thick.
"We are confusing when we say vegetables should not be cooked too much while at the same time if you cook it a little bit the consumer can get drug resistance. Not all pathogens can die when boiling vegetables," says Dr Joachim.
In milk too, one can drink carrying a drug-resistant parasite through the animal.
He says chickens, meat, dairy and eggs can also contain the parasite and spread while eating.
"There are patients who are required to take five-day medication and when they go to pharmacists they ask for half a dose and so when they use and recover, they don't go back to taking other medications and cause a build-up of resistance to each drug," says Dr Joachim.
He says patients with the parasite spend long periods of time in hospital and fail to generate wealth, affecting their economy and the country as a whole.
"We need a partnership to combat drug resistance by ensuring people are using the full dose. "Not every cough or influenza should take antibiotics, let's do lab tests to find out what caused the disease and which medicine is treated, let's not use drugs arbitrarily," he stresses.
Acting Vice-Chancellor of Muhas College, Professor Erasto Mbugi says the research they do is aimed at formulating policies, developing guidelines and policies that contribute to the growth of the health sector in the country.
He says the aim of the 11th conference is to bring together stakeholders, researchers, academics and health workers to discuss how best to combat drug resistance.
"This research into fungal resistance is aimed at providing support to the national initiative to combat drug parasite resistance in humans and animals," says Professor Mbugi.
The Tanzanian government has continued to implement the National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance (NAP-AMR, 2023-2028) in the One Health Approach.
The work plan outlined various strategic goals to slow down the resistance which are to educate and build awareness of the resistance of pesticides, research and monitoring, prevention of fungal infections, the proper use of medicines, especially those intended to fight parasites, and sustainable investment in the fight against pesticide resistance.
Government Chief Medical Officer Professor Hope Nagu says studies in the area are important as they provide an accurate picture and advise the best ways to prevent or combat the epidemic.
He says they are training and empowering human and animal health laboratories to tackle the problem.
Prof Nagu says citizens should use health professionals including using anti-fungal drugs by following the advice of health professionals and laboratory tests.
"At health centers we use our labs to know the infection in patients before we give drugs against parasites. This will prevent arbitrary use and thus reduce resistance to drugs," says Professor Nagu.