‘Antimicrobial resistance kills over 1.27m people yearly in sub-Saharan Africa’
Africa health ministers, yesterday, endorsed a regional strategy to ramp up action against antimicrobial resistance, which is estimated to have contributed directly to 1.27 million deaths in sub-Saharan Africa.
The region faces a high burden of antimicrobial resistance, which occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change over time, and no longer respond to medicines, making infections harder to treat.
Globally, around 10 million people, including 4.1 million in the African region, are projected to die of antimicrobial resistance by 2050.
While most African countries have national action plans to address the challenge, there is poor implementation due to lack of political commitment, inadequate antimicrobial surveillance, including insufficient laboratory capacity, and limited capacity to ensure optimised use of antimicrobials and promote awareness and understanding of the threat posed by resistance.
Poor infection prevention and control measures, and inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene services also pose challenges. Regional Director for Africa, World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Matshidiso Moeti, who disclosed this, in a statement, yesterday, said: “The growing threat of antimicrobial resistance requires scaled-up and sustained action by all – from governments to individuals and across all sectors.
“The commitment made today comes at a crucial time. WHO will continue supporting countries to reinforce measures for an effective response against antimicrobial resistance.”
The resolution adopted during the73rd session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa in Gaborone, Botswana, aims to strengthen coordination and governance of action against antimicrobial resistance, improve awareness and understanding, step up surveillance of antimicrobial resistance and antimicrobial use, and reinforce applicable national regulations and laws.
The regional strategy aims that, by 2030, all countries will have a functioning “One Health” approach – encompassing human, animal and environment health – on priority antimicrobial resistance actions.
All countries should also have a monitoring and evaluation system, conduct national awareness programmes, and enroll in a global portal for standardised approach to data collection, analysis, interpretation and sharing.
Additionally, all countries should implement measures to optimise responsible use of antimicrobials in health care facilities by 2030.
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