By Kudakwashe Pembere
ANTI Microbial resistance could wipe away the entire Zimbabwean population within five years if not acted upon, a health expert has said.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines Antimicrobial resistance as Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is the ability of a microorganism (like bacteria, viruses, and some parasites) to stop an antimicrobial (such as antibiotics, antivirals and antimalarials) from working against it.
Speaking at the launch of Zimbabwe Action Plan and Situation Analysis reports on AMR in Harare today, Ecumenical Pharmaceutical Network – ReAct Africa head Dr. Mirfin Mpundu said AMR is a global threat which is eradicating 700 000 people globally.
“But today its an incredible moment that we have a plan, we know that if we don’t act against antimicrobial resistance, within the next 20 to 50 years we might be eliminated.
“It is clear that currently around 700 000 deaths each year has attributed to antimicrobial resistance and if we look at the population of Zimbabwe, if we are losing say around 700 000.
“If we put it into context I think then Zimbabwe may be eliminated in the next five to 10 years. There will be nobody in this country,” he said.
He went on to say, “That’s sort of actually the problem that we are dealing with and we need to act.”
Deputy Minister of Health and Childcare Deputy Dr Aldrin Musiwa who spoke on behalf of Minister David Parirenyatwa said the situation analysis report showed Zimbabwe is challenged with growing resistance in common infections.
“The situation analysis report found out that Zimbabwe faces significant and growing resistance in common infections such as TB, malaria, HIV, respiratory infections, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), urinary tract infections (UTIs), meningitis and diarrheal diseases.
“Even with the latest typhoid outbreak that took place in this country, we experienced 22% resistance to ciprofloxacin.
“One major driver of resistance is increased antimicrobial consumption in both humans and animals. However the data on antimicrobial use and patterns of AMR in humans and animals in Zimbabwe are limited.
“In Zimbabwe there is also lack of meaningful surveillance data to help understand resistance patterns, prevalent organisms and guide policy development,” he said.
Dr Parirenyatwa said more effort should be put to curb antimicrobial resistance.
“More can be done to prevent infections, including improving general hygiene and sanitation and implementing infection prevention and control measures in all health institutions, implementing good animal husbandry and biosecurity including keeping our environment clean,” added the minister.
Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in some way that reduces or eliminates the effectiveness of drugs, chemicals, or other agents designed to cure or prevent infections. The bacteria survive and continue to multiply causing more harm.