Harare, 23 March 2016 - Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) poses an unprecedented threat to global public health. Antibiotics have long been regarded as one of the most significant medical achievements of the 20th century. These medicines have saved countless lives including aiding people affected by diseases such as cancer or diabetes, and those undergoing surgical procedures.
Unfortunately, the combined use and misuse of antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines has accelerated the development of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) to record high levels. This threatens the ability to treat common infectious diseases, resulting in death and disability of individuals who, until recently, could continue a normal course of life.
To address this and in response to the World Health Assembly Resolution (WHA 68.7) that urges Member States to have in place, by the Seventieth World Health Assembly, national action plans on AMR, the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Africa convened a workshop in Harare, Zimbabwe from 21 to 23 March 2016. The 3-day workshop was on the development and implementation of National Action Plans (NAPs) for the prevention and containment of antimicrobial resistance using the “One Health” approach.
National action plans should be aligned with the global action plan on AMR and with standards and guidelines established by relevant inter-governmental bodies. The workshop was attended by national focal points from Ministries of Health, Agriculture and Veterinary Services from Burkina Faso, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Staff from all levels of WHO, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) also participated.
In his welcoming remarks Dr David Okello, WHO Representative to Zimbabwe, on behalf of Dr Moeti Matshidiso, the WHO Regional Director for Africa stated that Africa shares the worldwide trend of increasing AMR which leads to enormous loss of lives and economic consequences and spelt out the multiple factors that contribute to the growing problem of AMR in the African region. Dr Okello further stated that the fight against AMR requires a concerted effort, multi-faceted interventions and multi-disciplinary approaches, and that it was critical to increase the awareness of policy-makers, health professionals and the general public about the negative implications of AMR.
The workshop familiarized National Focal Points with the process of developing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating NAPs using existing resources and tools; forged multi-sectorial in-country linkages to ensure ownership at country level in the “One Health” approach. Adaptable good practices and solutions to challenges were shared and discussions were held on common approaches (steps, timelines and resource needs) for the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of NAPs. Regional networks were also identified and mentorship/twinning opportunities established. Upon return to their countries, participants will be using a ‘One Health’ approach that includes human, animal, and environmental health considerations, to initiate a multisectoral planning process within their own country settings.
In his closing remarks Dr Okello underscored that countries had a set of tools and resources to facilitate the development of national action plans. He emphasized the importance of national action plans explicitly adopting the One Health approach and enabling the WHO to put into practice the Global Action Plan.
Dr Okello unequivocally committed the WHO to assisting countries achieve their NAPs by May 2017. He urged all partners and stakeholders to proactively engage with WHO Member States and contribute to the development and implementation of robust and sustainable National Action Plans to combat AMR.
Recommendations from the workshop
Country participants should:
- Immediately provide feedback on workshop proceedings to relevant government Ministries and Departments ensuring a One Health approach;
- Advocate for an in-country task force to begin developing the roadmap for the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of national action plans by the May 2017 WHA deadline;
- Convene a national workshop of stakeholders to mobilize all constituencies around the imperative of a national action plan to combat AMR; and
- Indicate technical support needs to the Regional Office.
The World Health Organization should:
- Facilitate technical support to countries;
- Convene similar workshops for the remaining 35 member states before year end;
- Facilitate strong collaboration, consultation and communication with the tripartite alliance of the WHO, FAO and OIE at regional level; and
- Create a networking communication channels and opportunities for the 12 member states.
For further information, please contact:
Dr Jean-Bosco Ndihokubwayo: ndihokubwayoj [at] who.int
Dr A.T. Desta: destaa [at] who.int
Dr Ali A. Yahaya: aliahamedy [at] who.int