Africa: Commonwealth Leaders Discuss Evolving Threat of Anti-Microbial Resistance

A medical illustration of drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria (from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention publication entitled Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2019).

As the world is recovering from COVID-19 pandemic, it's crucial to remember that many of the measures needed to prevent and mitigate future pandemics are also needed to address Anti-Microbial Resistance.

The Director-General of The World Health Organisation and the principal advisor to the United Nations on matters pertaining to global health, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said during an event, which was convened by the Global Leaders Group (GLG) on Antimicrobial Resistance, that took place on the margins of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali on June, 23.

Apparently, anti-microbial resistance is spreading rapidly worldwide and has been considered the next pandemic.

Officials pose for a group photo during event on Antimicrobial Resistance, that took place on the margins of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali on June, 23.

A recent Lancet publication revealed that anti-microbial resistant infections have caused 1.27 million deaths, and were associated with 4.95 million deaths in 2019.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) refers to the ability of microorganisms to withstand antimicrobial treatments.

According to Dr. Tharcisse Mpunga, the State Minister in charge of Primary Healthcare in the Ministry of Health, Anti-Microbial Resistance undermines successful prevention and treatment, which increases a variety of bacteria, viral fungal infections that have a significant impact on public health, food security, economy, people, animals, and the environment.

He hence urged everyone to take commitment to tackle the AMR issue.

"The impact of this phenomenon on public health has led to a range of attempts on national, regional, and the global level to combat and contain AMR, and the Global group organizing this event is part of the same framework," he said.

The Minister noted that Rwanda has been committed to the inclusive and connected solutions advocated in the action plan by the World Health Organisation to advance AMR.

"Rwanda has developed a national action plan on antimicrobial resistance, a tool presenting the consensus of stakeholders on evidence-based to introduce, through a stakeholder platform of shared experience over five years. During the implementation process, we have caught up on the commitment and the engagement of our stakeholders and partners to put together the source that allows full implementation of this national action plan on AMR," he said.

Teodros interacts with delegates after the event

He added that Rwanda committed to enhancing collaboration with different sectors, especially stakeholders and partners to work together to solve the issue of AMR.

Ghebreyesus shared that AMR has an impact on every sector and hence, every sector must be engaged in response.

"The public and private sectors across health, agriculture, and environment together must change practices to protect the antimicrobials we have. We must invest in surveillance to have a two picture of the evolution of antimicrobial resistance around the world, we must invest in research and development of new antibiotics, and we must find a better approach to waste management for years," he said.

To advance Anti-Microbial Resistance, Prof. Michael A. Borg, the head of the Department of Infection Control at Mater Dei Hospital in Malta, said there is a need to improve knowledge amongst the general public.

"Educate them about the potential risks of self-medication with antibiotics, and that of course will need to be complimented by healthcare professionals and especially community clinics. So, first of all reduce the risks, reduce the use of antibiotics and also avoid self-medication wherever possible, and avoid the use of antibiotics which are broad-spectrum, leave them for real infections," he said.

Delegates follow Tedros 's remarks during the event

The event was convened by the Global Leaders Group on Antimicrobial Resistance, that took place on the margins of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kigali on June, 23.

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