Health stakeholders urged to combat antimicrobial resistance

Nairobi summit calls for urgent action on antimicrobial resistance in Africa. [Courtesy]

Antimicrobial resistance is emerging as one of the top killers in Africa, yet it is less spoken of and known amongst the populations.

 This is one of the sentiments that emerged in the conference that is underway in Nairobi.

  The summit brings together national and international experts to promote and strengthen One Health Governance for Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) surveillance in Kenya and the region.

  Antimicrobial resistance is when germs such as fungi and bacteria develop the ability to defeat conventional drugs meant to kill them.

 The Conference aims to fill critical gaps in the surveillance of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria in low and middle-income countries, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, through various initiatives such as capacity building, research, and surveillance system strengthening to tackle AMR effectively.

 Speaking at the 2024 Microbiology Updates Conference, the Ministry of Health Antimicrobial Resistance Focal Point in charge, Dr Emmanuel Tanui, said the ministry has deployed a multifaceted approach to address AMR by improving safety, quality of care and outcomes, reducing treatment costs, reducing emergence and spread of AMR and optimising antibiotics lifespan.

 “Antimicrobial stewardship programs should strike a balance between the three pillars, especially in low and middle-income countries. The stewardship programs ensure access to antimicrobials is not compromised and is expanded where needed,” said Tanui.

 Excess antimicrobial usage has been attributed to inadequate disease prevention, high infectious disease burden, availability of substandard drugs, inadequately trained and insufficient health personnel and poor access to diagnostics and laboratory services to guide treatment.

 A study published by Lancet says antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections are killing more people than HIV/Aids or malaria. Hundreds of thousands of deaths are occurring due to common, previously treatable infections because bacterias that cause them have become resistant to treatment.

 According to the World Health Organization, Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is one of the top global public health and development threats. In 2019, it is estimated that bacterial AMR was directly responsible for 1.27 million global deaths and contributed to 4.95 million deaths.

 The conference provides different fields in the medical sector, including laboratory technologists, pharmacists, doctors, nurses and community pharmacists to curb the misuse and overuse of antibiotics in Kenya.

 Aga Khan University Hospital’s Head of Clinical Microbiology, Prof. Gunturu Revathi, said approximately 47 per cent of the global population has little to no access to diagnostics.

 He also added that diagnostics are central and fundamental to quality health care. “

 “This notion is under-recognized, leading to underfunding and inadequate resources at all levels. Importantly, recent international efforts to build lab capacity have been intensified and numerous international Non-Governmental Organisations are conducting training on Antimicrobial Stewardship,” said Prof. Gunturu

 The Microbiology Conference aims to combat AMR by bringing all collaborating partners together for networking, interacting, enhancing surveillance, strengthening governance, and promoting rational use of antibiotics.

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