team of health experts has come together to lead efforts to proffer solutions for Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), a bacteria identified to cause gastritis and gastric cancer, that is ravaging the African continent.
The team of experts led by Prof Stella Smith (FAS) officially presented the African Helicobacter and Microbiota Study Initiative (AHMSI) at an event held at the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) on Monday.
Speaking during the event, Prof Smith, a Professor of Medical Microbiology, who is AHMSI’s Director of Research, decried the ravaging effects of H. pylori, which she said has been identified to affect more than 50 per cent of the world population.
Prof Smith said that the disease, previously known as Campylobacter pylori, is a gram-negative, microaerophilic, spiral (helical) bacterium usually found in the stomach.
TheNewsGuru.com (TNG) reports infection with H. pylori causes chronic inflammation and significantly increases the risk of developing duodenal and gastric ulcer disease and gastric cancer.
Speaking on how to tackle the bacteria, Prof Smith urged African leaders to wake up to the dangers H. pylori poses to its citizenry. She said the bacterium was first identified in 1982 by Australian doctors, Barry Marshall and Robin Warren.
Further highlighting the dangers of H. pylori, the Professor of Medical Microbiology said the disease causes gastric cancer.
“What I want to tell the government is that although H. pylori is neglected, generally in Africa, not only in Nigeria, we decided to fill in that gap because we know that Helicobacter pylori infection is real.
“It actually causes gastritis, as well as some percentages of gastric cancer. Our research is to try and focus on what we believe H. pylori research will bring to bear in Africa.
“So, whatever research we’re doing is not just for Nigeria alone. We’re working towards general living, improvement of diagnosis, (because that’s another problem) the treatment as well as management of Helicobacter pylori”, Prof Smith said.
The AHMSI’s Director of Research went further to say: “You know that anything that causes cancer is not anything you need to play with. The World Health Organisation, 1994 called it a class one carcinogen. So it actually causes cancer.
“And in countries where gastric cancer cases get as high as 5 per cent, one is usually at risk of time in the long run. So we need to nip the issues of proper diagnosis of Helicobacter pylori in the bud.
“So we can look at the culture because if you don’t culture you probably don’t know the exact treatment to give the organism. So our group is going to conduct in-depth research on the Helicobacter pylori diagnosis, treatment, and management in Africa”.
Meanwhile, Dr Mohammed Alboraie, a research scholar of internal medicine and gastroenterology at Al-Azhar University, Cairo, Egypt, who was present at the event, said all hands must be on deck to curb the deadly effects of H. pylori on Africans.
TNG reports Dr Alboraie disclosed that his group is making available unique solutions to gastric disorders, especially H. pylori.
“African researchers have come together to proffer solutions to Africa because other countries may have different types of resistance patterns and bacteria to the antibiotics.
“In Africa, we didn’t have a group that studies the bacteria affecting the stomach.
“So, we gathered here to offer some solutions, customised to African countries. For example, the economy in Africa is different from that in Europe or America.
“Also, the antibiotics present here may not be the same as that in America or Europe. Some antibiotics are available in America and Europe and they are not available here [Africa].
“Some antibiotics are effective in our population in Africa which may not be active in Europe and America.
“Also, regarding the diagnosis of the disease, we may use other forms of diagnostic tests which may be suitable and effective in Africa, but not in America and Europe.
“The bacteria has different strengths and resistance and that’s why we are studying our population in Africa and studying the effectiveness of the drugs here and proffer the best solutions for our population,” Alboraie said.