Maliki Duro Reports
World Antibiotic Awareness Week, 18-24 November, 2019__Message from WHO Africa Regional Director, Dr Matshidiso Moeti.
World Antibiotic Awareness Week is an opportunity, every November, to improve understanding in the African Region and globally of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
This year, the theme is “handle antibiotics with care”, emphasizing the need to use antibiotics safely and responsibly across sectors, from agricultural and livestock production to public health, and to mitigate the impacts of antimicrobial pollution contaminating water and soil.
A week-long regional advocacy event is being held in Nairobi, convened by the Africa Regional Tripartite Secretariat (the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, the World Organisation for Animal Health, and the World Health Organization), organized jointly with the Inter-African Bureau for Animal Sciences, Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, and the United Nations Environment Programme.
AMR endangers health security and our progress towards universal health coverage, by threatening to reverse medical advances of the twentieth century. It reduces our ability to treat diseases such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, gonorrhoea and cancer. AMR also threatens our ability to conduct surgeries and to care for premature babies.
This silent pandemic is already leading to 700 000 deaths worldwide each year – left unchecked, AMR could cause up to 10 million deaths annually by 2050. People living in developing countries and those in fragile contexts, affected by conflict and violence, are particularly vulnerable.
We are seeing high resistance to common pathogens such as 98% fluoroquinolone-resistant Escherichia coli, meaning there are limited treatment options for people that get this infection. Key challenges in combatting AMR include: weak regulatory systems facilitating proliferation of substandard and falsified medicines; limited implementation of standards for clean water, sanitation and hygiene, and to prevent and control infections; and a lack of reliable data.
WHO and partners are working with countries to address these challenges by implementing “One Health” national action plans. These plans bring together different sectors and disciplines to build stronger regulatory systems, to improve surveillance, and to develop policies to promote appropriate antibiotic use among humans, and in livestock and agriculture.
In African Region, nine of 47 countries now have functioning multisectoral working groups on AMR and 19 countries have enrolled in the Global AMR Surveillance System (GLASS). Twenty-four countries have legislation on the prescription and sale of antimicrobials for human use and six have national monitoring systems for consumption and rational use of antimicrobials in human health. Together, we need to accelerate action to reduce the increasing prevalence of drugs-resistant infections.
Misuse of antibiotics puts us all at risk. So today, I urge everyone to do more to handle antibiotics with care:
Governments can adequately resource national action plans, promote AMR governance, facilitate multisectoral collaboration, and increase access to clean water and sanitation.
Patients should only use antibiotics prescribed by a certified health professional.
Health workers should always follow infection prevention and control practices, and only prescribe and dispense antibiotics when they are truly needed.
The private sector can invest in research and development of new antibiotics.
The agricultural industry can reduce the use of antibiotics in livestock farming.
Working together, and taking a holistic approach to safeguarding antibiotics, will help to ensure that we can all look forward to a healthier future.
Antimicrobial resistance and primary health care: technical series on primary health care, WHO, 2018
Essak, S. Y. et al.
Antimicrobial resistance in the WHO African region: current status and roadmap for action, J Public Health (Oxf). 2017 Mar; 39(1): 8–13.
Follow-up to the political declaration of the high-level meeting of the General Assembly on antimicrobial resistance: Report of the Secretary-General, United Nations General Assembly, 2019
No Time to Wait: Securing the future from drug-resistant infections” Report to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, 2019
Pulling Together to Beat Superbugs Knowledge and Implementation Gaps in Addressing Antimicrobial Resistance, World Bank, 2019
Tadesse, B. T. et al,
Antimicrobial resistance in Africa: A systematic review BMC Infectious Diseases 17(1):616 · December 2017