TZ unveils new action plan to tackle antimicrobial resistance

TANZANIA has unveiled a new five-year action plan, which, among other strategic objectives, targets restructuring of policy, regulations and guidelines to reinforce conformity at individual, institutional and country-level in tackling the problem of antimicrobial resistance.

The National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance (NAP-AMR 2023-2028) was launched yesterday in Dar es Salaam during the 2nd National Antimicrobial Resistance Symposium.

The Ministries of Health, Livestock and Fisheries, and Agriculture through the National Multi-Coordinating Committee on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR-MCC), in collaboration with the Health Promotion and System Strengthening (HPSS) Project under the umbrella of the One Health approach (OH), have organised this major AMR two-day symposium in the city.

Other objectives of the new document are to create awareness and understanding of AMR for effective information, education and communication.

It also intends to strengthen the knowledge-evidence based through surveillance and research, reduce the incidence of infections through effective sanitation, hygiene and infection prevention measures as well as optimising the use of antimicrobial agents in human and animal health.

The health programme would be targeting both human and animal health and the environment, with consideration of AMR along the food value systems at sub-national level and fostering more private sectors engagement.

This plan equally acknowledges a need to bridge the NAP-AMR implementation gaps between human and animal sectors, versus plant and environment sectors.

The plan is specifically informed by the achievements, gaps and challenges identified during implementation of the NAP-AMR (2017-2022).

Chief Medical Officer Prof Tumaini Nagu graced the launching event on behalf of the Health Minister, Ummy Mwalimu.

Reading the speech of the minister, Prof Nagu said the previous NAP-AMR was implemented by various stakeholders from health, livestock and agriculture, fisheries and livestock sectors.

Prof Nagu stated that the health sector continued improving laboratories for testing antimicrobial resistance among patients, and hence enabling proper use of drugs.

She said statistics indicate that the use of antibiotics in the country is estimated at 92 per cent, making the problem of antimicrobial resistance to stand at 59 per cent.

She further noted that the challenge was also observed in livestock, whereby livestock keepers use antibiotics to treat livestock instead of using vaccinations.

Speaking at the sidelines of the event, representative of the Health Promotion and System Strengthening (HPSS) project, Ms Fiona Chilunda, said the project has facilitated the symposium since it aims at controlling the antimicrobial resistance, which is part of the project’s criteria.

“The project has been cooperating with the government in this area, we have done research and have come up with some interventions, including training over 500 health staff on how to properly prescribe various drugs,” Ms Chilunda said.

She further noted that the HPSS also participated in preparations of the (NAP-AMR 2023-2028).

The launching of the new action plan was done in line with commemoration of the World Antimicrobial Week (WAAW) which takes place globally from 18-24 November every year.

The 2022 WAAW themed ‘Preventing antimicrobial resistance together’ calls for cross-sectoral collaboration to preserve the efficacy of antibiotics and seeks to increase awareness of the global crisis of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

The World Health Organisation (WHO) initiated WAAW to encourage best practices among the general public, health workers and policy makers in order to overcome the further emergence and spread of drug-resistant infections.

AMR remains one of the major global public health threats which makes it harder to treat common infections, thereby increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death.

Over the years, the use and misuse of antimicrobials in humans, animals and plants, poor prescribing practices and lack of patient adherence to medical prescriptions have accelerated the threat of AMR worldwide.

Consequently, an increased number of infectious diseases have become difficult and even impossible to manage, with dramatic health and economic impact.

The consequences of AMR on health and healthcare systems are extraordinary.

It has been estimated that multidrug resistant infections cause approximately 700,000 deaths worldwide each year.

Unless action is taken, it is projected that the burden of deaths from AMR could reach 10 million each year globally by 2050.

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