The World Health Organization (WHO) holds a two-day regional summit in Addis Ababa to discuss the issue of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) on April 25 and 26, 2023.
Representatives from 12 African countries participated in the summit on the responsible and appropriate use of antimicrobials cognizant of AMR’s significant threat to global public health, with Sub-Saharan African countries bearing the heaviest burden of resistant bacterial infections.
This weight is said to puts at risk, decades of advances to control infectious diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and sexually transmitted infections. The COVID-19 pandemic was further stated to have fueled the threat of AMR due to extensive misuse and overuse of antimicrobials.
“AMR is a significant threat to global public health. The global and regional burden is alarming. Sub-Saharan African countries bear the heaviest burden of resistant bacterial infections, with the highest AMR-associated death rates, at 99 deaths per 100,000 populations,” said Dr. Nonhlanhla Dlamini, Acting Representative of WHO-Ethiopia Country Office adding cost of AMR was high, with the highest impact on Low and Middle-Income Countries.
Furthermore, as noted in the summit, the consequences of AMR during surgery, cancer, and the management of immune-suppressed patients were cited as frightful. In 2019, 4.95 million deaths were associated with AMR, and 1.27 million deaths were directly attributable to it.
Dr. Walter Fuller from the WHO African Region on his part said that countries must act now to make informed and country-specific policy decisions.
As highlighted, Ethiopia is currently committed to preventing AMR and is working in close collaboration with WHO and other partners to ensure responsible and appropriate use of antimicrobials. Ethiopia is also among the first countries to have a national strategic document on AMR and the implementation of Antimicrobial Stewardship (AMS). Moreover, financial support from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has helped scale up the implementation of antimicrobial stewardship from a few health facilities to around 100 across Ethiopia.
Healthcare leaders and AMR focal points from Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe actively took part in the two- day summit.
“Ethiopia’s government is fully committed to preventing AMR. Through its National Action Plan on the Prevention and Control of AMR, the government of Ethiopia is executing coordinated activities at all levels, and the Ethiopian Ministries of Health, Agriculture, and Environment are working in close collaboration with WHO and other partners to ensure responsible and appropriate use of antimicrobials,” remarked Ethiopian State Minister of Health Dr. Dereje Duguma at the summit opening.,
“The government of Ethiopia is also committed to work in close collaboration with all African countries in fighting the challenges of AMR,” the State Minister added whilst calling upon all partners to quickly act on reversing the impact of AMR.
Ethiopia conducted the first AMR baseline survey in 2009 and launched the first National Strategic Framework for the prevention and containment of AMR in 2011. Ethiopia is also among the first countries to have a national strategic document on AMR and AMS.