Dr Chitalu Chilufya, the Zambia Minister of Health has called on African Nations to expedite action on the development of the National Action Plans (NAPs) for Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).
This, he said would pave way for the execution of the plans in order to combat the great threat posed by AMR to humanity in order to safeguard public health security.
Dr Chilufya made the call during the opening of a three-day workshop dubbed “Pan-Africa Workshop on Effective Implementation of National Action Plans on Antimicrobial Resistance”.
The workshop which was jointly organised by Zambia National Public Health Institute, Ministry of Health, Zambia and Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), India brought together participants from 11 countries including; Zambia and India.
The objective is to discuss the threat of AMR to humans, animals and the environment; its spread, and impact in Africa and to understand the implementation of the NAPs on AMR.
Dr Chilufya said AMR, which was a by-product of the abuse and misuse of antibiotics by the public, posed a greater threat to public health security and challenged their aspirations for universal health coverage.
The Minister of Health said resistant pathogens were traveling across international borders through human beings, animals, the environment and food, while also impacting negatively on food security and sustainable development, thereby making everyone vulnerable.
Dr Chilufya who highlighted the need for African governments to invest in resilient public health systems, particularly prioritizing AMR, also urged the media to help educate the public to stop the abuse and misuse of antibiotics.
He said the workshop was therefore important to the healthcare of African citizens and thanked CSE and other partners for making it possible.
Mr Amit Khurana, Director, Food Safety and Toxins Programme, CSE, India, noted that containing AMR would be critical for nations of the global south, stressing that “We will have to be innovative in the way we manage the issue of access and excess of antibiotics as more people still suffer from lack of antibiotics”.
He also called for caution in the production of food and management of waste, adding that they could not afford to allow misuse of antibiotics and chemicals first, and then spend a lot to clean it up from their food and environment.
“We need not travel the same curve as developed nations and must use greater discretion. The global success to contain AMR will hugely depend on how we handle it”, said Mr Khurana.
Mr Ngulkham Jathom Gangte, the Indian High Commissioner to Zambia noted that AMR was a challenge man would ignore at its own peril.
He emphasised that the ability of organisms to resist antimicrobial treatment especially antibiotics had a direct impact on human and animal health and carried a heavy economic burden due to high cost of treatment, and reduced productivity caused by prolonged sickness.
He therefore noted that effective collaboration between CSE and other partners and stakeholders would help in focusing the various country guidelines in the quest to reduce inappropriate use of antibiotics among the public.
The workshop witnessed the launch of four key reports including; “Road Map to Phase out Non-Therapeutic Antibiotic Use and Critically Important Antibiotics in Food-Animals in Zambia”, “Baseline Information for Integrated Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance in Zambia”, “Zambia’s Multi-Sectoral National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance”, and Zambia’s Integrated Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance Framework”.
To highlight the importance of creating awareness among people, CSE also released a special issue of Down To Earth Magazine with a special coverage of AMR in Africa and Asia which was co-authored by six African journalists from Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Zambia and Uganda and two from Asia namely, India and China.
The two continents contribute more than 88 per cent deaths due to AMR globally.