Antimicrobial resistance is a national threat

The Chronicle

Yoliswa Dube-Moyo, Matabeleland South Bureau Chief

The evaluation and mitigation of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in Zimbabwe requires a holistic and urgent commitment as prudent use of antimicrobials saves human and animal life.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), antimicrobials – including antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals and antiparasitics – are medicines used to prevent and treat infections in humans, animals and plants.

Experts say antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a global health and development threat.

WHO has declared that AMR is one of the top 10 global public health threats facing humanity with misuse and overuse of antimicrobials being the main drivers in the development of drug-resistant pathogens.

Lack of clean water and sanitation and inadequate infection prevention and control promotes the spread of microbes, some of which can be resistant to antimicrobial treatment.

The latest Antimicrobial Resistance Report says AMR requires urgent multisectoral action in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

AMR occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change over time and no longer respond to medicines making infections harder to treat and increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death.

According to the WHO brief, as a result of drug resistance, antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines become ineffective and infections become increasingly difficult or impossible to treat.

“For common bacterial infections, including urinary tract infections, sepsis, sexually transmitted infections, and some forms of diarrhoea, high rates of resistance against antibiotics frequently used to treat these infections have been observed world-wide, indicating that we are running out of effective antibiotics. For example, the rate of resistance to ciprofloxacin, an antibiotic commonly used to treat urinary tract infections, varied from 8.4% to 92.9% for Escherichia coli and from 4.1% to 79.4% for Klebsiella pneumoniae in countries reporting to the Global Antimicrobial Resistance and Use Surveillance System (GLASS),” read the report.

According to WHO, without effective antimicrobials, the success of modern medicine in treating infections, including during major surgery and cancer chemotherapy, would be at increased risk.

“AMR is a complex problem that requires a united multisectoral approach. The One Health approach brings together multiple sectors and stakeholders engaged in human, terrestrial and aquatic animal and plant health, food and feed production and the environment to communicate and work together in the design and implementation of programmes, policies, legislation and research to attain better public health outcomes,” read the report.

“Greater innovation and investment is required in operational research, and in research and development of new antimicrobial medicines, vaccines, and diagnostic tools especially those targeting the critical gram-negative bacteria.”

Livestock specialist Mr Christopher Magona said high antibiotic resistance in broilers was expected because of extensive use of antibiotics in poultry.

“However, when chickens are raised in proximity to cattle, some bacteria find their way to cattle. As they move across species, they get exposed to different types and doses of antibiotics,” he said.

To ensure global progress, countries need to ensure costing and implementation of national action plans across sectors to ensure sustainable progress.

“Prior to the endorsement of the GAP in 2015, global efforts to contain AMR included the WHO global strategy for containment of Antimicrobial Resistance developed in 2001 which provides a framework of interventions to slow the emergence and reduce the spread of AMR.”

Experts say the evaluation and mitigation of AMR in Zimbabwe requires a holistic and urgent commitment, support and higher momentum by the Government and other stakeholders.


Article Source: The Chronicle

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