Zimbabwe Observes Week Long Antimicrobial Resistance Awareness Campaign

AMR

ZIMBABWE has joined the rest of the world in commemorating the World Antibiotic week which is meant to increase awareness and educate communities on the dangers associated with Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in a bid to influence behavior change and attitudes towards antibiotics use, consumption and disposal.

By Michael Gwarisa

The Antibiotic awareness week is running from 18 to 24 November, 2020 and as part of the awareness raising efforts, the country has also come up with a Jingle that will be played on various radio stations as well as poems by various school children around the subject of AMR.

Speaking to HealthTimes on the sidelines of the launch, Tapfumanei Mashe , National AMR Coordinator in the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) said Antimicrobial Resistance was declared a global threat at the United Nations conference in 2015 and there was need for collective effort in combating the menace.

This program which we have today is running for a week and is meant to give awareness of this major problem of AMR. In case you didn’t know, AMR was ranked a global threat the world over, so this is something that is even beyond COVID-19, its something that is very critical. After AMR was declared a national threat, we sat down as country and came up with a national action plan.

“For us to address AMR, we need  to approach it from a holistic angle where it must be sorted from its core,for example if you are talking of water and sanitation, you need to have all the systems on board because water and sanitation contributes heavily to AMR. What we are now saying as a country is we need to address all these issues from a one health point of view where we invite all sectors that are involved that is from the Water and Sanitation guys in the ministry of environment, the agriculture guys in the ministry of agriculture and the ministry of health guys and partners,” said Mashe.

He added that the National Action Plan on AMR which has been adopted by Zimbabwe has a five-year period from 2017 to 2022 with an objective of addressing issues around infection control, laboratory surveillance and research.

“Before the National Action Plan, we did a situation analysis where we went in different ministries asking people on the state of affairs concerning issues to do with AMR. We produced a document that captured all the issues that are happening in different ministries mainly the ministry of Agriculture and the ministry of health.

“We discovered that they were a lot of gaps within these ministries with issues to do with AMR so we used that situation analysis documents to develop what we call a National Action Plan addressing those gaps that we found in different ministries.  The national action plan also focused on research and innovation so that we see how best new antimicrobial  and new methods  can work to reduce the impact of AMR.”

Recent studies on Antimicrobial Resistance projected that if nothing serious is done, AMR will lead to millions of  deaths per year (from current 700 000, more than cancer) by the year 2050 and this will result in the reduction of 2 -3.5 percent in Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

World Health Organisation Zimbabwe Health Systems Strengthening Advisor, Dr Stanley Midzi said Zimbabwe was one of the few countries that was able to meet the deadline of producing a national action plan as was agreed at the 2015 World Health Assembly.

“WHO is one of the key partners in supporting governments around the worlds and the ministry just highlighted that AMR is one of the biggest challenge that is facing public health as we go forward. The statistics are clear that if nothing is done  by 2050, the world will be facing a catastrophe where we will be losing about 700 000 people yearly at a huge cost.

“So the WHO was then tasked by member states during the WHO Assembly in 2015 to develop a Global Action Plan to guide countries in developing their national action plans and that was done. As we speak, Zimbabwe is one of the few countries that was able to meet the deadline of producing the national action plan by the time they met in 2017 at the national health assembly. As for the campaign, it will be running for a week and we want it to be a continuous thing and media should make noise about it,” said Dr Midzi.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe has also received a UK Government’s Fleming Fund grant to the tune of  £ 4 Million   to develop the country’s capacity to mange and combat AMR. The funds are being managed by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) working together  with WHO and government, particularly the ministries of agriculture, environment and that of health to implement the grant. Earlier this year, another funding opportunity was launched in Zimbabwe under the Multi-Partner Trust Fund and the country’s application of US$1 Million was amongst the few proposals that were accepted in October this year and all things being equal, the funds will start flowing into the country soon.

Speaking on the Fleming Fund, Kululeko Dube, the  FAO Zimbabwe AMR Focal Person said, “We received funding from the Fleming in the tune of £ 4 Million mainly to strengthen the surveillance system of AMR and AMR is a current problem just like COVID-19 and we are looking at AMR becoming the next pandemic. What Fleming fund did for us is that they gave us £4 Million to strengthen our surveillance structure in our one health club platform meeting for human health, animal health and environmental health and also the food safety sector.

“The environmental health and food safety sector are coming in probably on a smaller component because for us, the urge is really try to strengthen the animal health and the human health sector because they are more critical in this fight for AMR. What we are going to be doing is we are going to be renovating laboratories, we are going to make sure that we improve the information management systems so that we can do away with paper recordings and data management,” said Dube.

 

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