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Kenya intensifies action against antimicrobial resistance – July 21, 2022

Thursday, 21 July – The Government with the support of development partners has taken several measures across various sectors to intensify action against antimicrobial resistance (AMR), one of the most complex public health threats with root causes in multiple sectors ranging from health, food safety and agriculture to environment and trade.

In response to the AMR threat, the Ministry of Health  in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries & Cooperatives have consolidated national efforts to implement sustainable measures to mitigate any further emergence and spread of AMR.

“Using this one-health approach, the Ministries developed the Policy and National Action Plan and the implementation of the Policy is well underway,” Chief Administrative Secretary, Dr. Rashid Aman said on Thursday during the National AMR Forum in Nairobi.

In view of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, several studies globally have indicated a high rate of antimicrobial prescribing and self-medication for those with symptoms of Covid-19, much of which is unnecessarily promoting antimicrobial resistance as most of the initial illnesses being treated have been from covid-19 viral infection, he said.

“Optimal utilization on microbiology laboratories is critical in ensuring that the continuous engagement of patients, the clinical and laboratory teams supporting the judicious use of antimicrobial agents continues as guided by our National Antimicrobial Stewardship Guidelines,’” the CAS said.

The CAS warned that inaction, will have dire consequences for human, animal, plant and environmental health, andcalled for accelerated action in curbing the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance in the next version of the National Action Plan.

The hew version he advised should target eliminating or reducing over-the-counter sales of antimicrobial drugs that are important for medical or veterinary purposes; reducing the overall need for antimicrobial drugs by improving infection prevention and control, hygiene, biosecurity and vaccination program in humans, agriculture and aquaculture.

“In addition, we need to end the use of antimicrobial drugs that are of critical importance to human medicine in promoting growth in animals, limiting the amount of antimicrobial drugs administered to prevent infection in healthy animals and plants and ensuring that their use is performed with regulatory oversight, ensuring access to quality and affordable antimicrobials for animal and human health and promoting innovation of evidence based and sustainable alternatives to antimicrobials in food systems,” he said.

To achieve this, the CAS said there is need to present a strong economic case for investing in containment of antimicrobial resistance with robust estimates of the costs and benefits of implementing national action plans on antimicrobial resistance to galvanize investment.

Studies have predicted a continued rise in antimicrobial resistance globally leading to 10 million people dying every year and a 3% reduction in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by the year 2050. The GRAM report 2022 estimated that, at least 1.27 million deaths per year are directly attributable to AMR.

In 2019, the highest rates of AMR burden were in sub-Saharan Africa where six pathogens accounted for 73·4% of deaths, 1 in 5 deaths caused by AMR occurred in children under the age of five – often from previously treatable infections.

“This new evidence shows that AMR is a leading cause of death globally, higher than HIV/AIDs or Malaria, a warning signal that AMR is already putting extra pressure on frontline healthcare workers by making common infections harder to treat and preventing them from saving millions of lives,” he obervred.

 

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