Mapping Africa

The UN agencies in charge of health, food security and environment on Wednesday launched a partnership with African Union to boost the war against antimicrobial resistance in the continent.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said in a statement issued in Nairobi said that the World Health Organization(WHO) and the UN Environment (UNEP) will be part of the new venture to strengthen the response to the growing public health crisis in the continent.

“We have come together on the occasion of the second Africa Continental World Anti-microbial Awareness Week to engender continental solidarity and strengthen commitment towards mitigating antimicrobial risks,” said FAO.

Africa has emerged as the next hotspot of anti-microbial resistance that presents an enormous threat to human and environmental health during the COVID-19 pandemic era.

Statistics from WHO indicate that one million people in the continent could lose their lives by 2050 due to failure of antibiotics used to treat infectious diseases and parasites.

According to WHO, resistance to first-line drugs used to treat malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS has been growing in Africa thereby exposing patients to the risk of death.

“Antimicrobial resistance is one of the most pressing health challenges Africa faces. If we don’t act now, we could see the continent roll back the gains in health we have made through immense effort and sacrifice,” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa.

The UN agencies in their joint communique outlined seven action plans that will be implemented to ensure that anti-microbial resistance poses minimal risks to public health in Africa.

“We commit to leverage our core competencies to effectively combat anti-microbial resistance. Support African member states to develop, update and implement national antimicrobial resistance action plans,” said the UN.

It said that awareness-raising at the community level, industry-academia linkages are key to promote the safe application of antibiotics to promote health of humans, animals and plants.

Abebe Haile-Gabriel, FAO assistant director-general and regional representative for Africa said that appropriate use of antimicrobials is key to sustain livelihoods through food security, better health outcomes and minimal pollution to vital ecosystems like waterways.

“Access to and appropriate use of antimicrobials is vital for the production of safe and nutritious food, for animal health and human welfare,” said Haile-Gabriel.

Ahmed El-Sawalhy, director of AU Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) said that political goodwill, partnerships, enforcement of regulations and investments in robust surveillance and monitoring tools is key to win the war against antimicrobial resistance in the continent. Enditem

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