WHO Ethiopia Holds Top-Level Summit on Proper Use of Antimicrobials.

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A two-day regional summit on the responsible and appropriate use of antimicrobials, organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) gathered representatives from 12 African countries in Addis Ababa. The summit was put together in the wake of the recent African Union Summit which pushed for increased cooperation and resource mobilization for health system strengthening and pandemic preparedness on the continent.

 

Acting Representative of WHO-Ethiopia Country Office Dr. Nonhlanhla Dlamini who gave the welcoming speech during the summit said “Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) is a significant threat to global public health”.

AMR happens when bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites no longer respond to antimicrobial agents. These antimicrobial agents become ineffective due to drug resistance and infections become difficult or impossible to treat, leading to an increase in the spread of the disease, severe illness, and death.

 

Dr. Dlamini stressed that the “global and regional burden is alarming” and most resistant bacterial infections occur in Sub-Saharan African countries. They have the highest AMR-associated death rates, at 99 deaths per 100,000 population. AMR threatens decades of progress in the fight against infectious diseases like malaria, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and STDs.

 

According to the Acting Representative, the recent Covid-19 pandemic has increased the threat of AMR due to the widespread abuse and misuse of antimicrobials, noting that a more robust regulatory framework and antimicrobial stewardship are required to regulate the use of antibiotics.

 

In 2019, there were 4.95 million deaths associated with AMR, and 1.27 million deaths were directly related to it according to Dr. Walter Fuller at WHO African Region, who stated that “AMR causes more deaths than HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, or malaria”.

And Mr. Thomas Joselh from WHO Headquarters emphasized the need for “all countries to develop a coherent set of actions to promote responsible and appropriate use of antimicrobials to reduce the burden of drug-resistant infections”.

 

The Ethiopian State Minister of Health, Dr. Dereje Duguma noted that the Ethiopian government is readily determined to work in proximal association with all African countries to fight the challenges of AMR. 

In 2009, Ethiopia conducted the first AMR baseline survey and introduced the first National Strategic Framework for the prevention and containment of AMR in 2011. The country is also one of the first to have a national strategic document on AMR and the implementation of Antimicrobial Stewardship (AMS).

 

Dr. Nonhlanhla reiterated WHO’s commitment to supporting the endeavor of the Ethiopian government in strengthening AMR response, saying “More investments and active collaboration among different pillars of health systems are essential to combat AMR”. from a few health facilities to about 100 across Ethiopia, financial assistance from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has helped scale up the adoption of antimicrobial stewardship.

 

Also, Participating actively in the summit are healthcare executives and AMR focal points from Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

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