By Wallace Mawire
HARARE-Zimbabwe has been hailed for initiating what has been described as one of the Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR) best cases initiative in the African continent following strides made under the AMR national programme being implemented by the country’s Ministry of Health and Child Care with support from its partners.
The remarks were made on Wednesday, 15 December, 2021 by Dr John Mangwiro, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Health and Child Care at the official opening of the National Microbiology Reference Laboratory AMR unit and launch of the Fleming Fund and Multi-Partner Trust Fund grants at Sally Mugabe Central Hospital on behalf of Honourable Retired General Dr Constatine Chiwenga.
On this day, Zimbabwe joined the rest of the world in commemorating the belated World Anti-Microbial Awareness Week which is held annually on 18 to 24 November, since 2015.
The commemorations provide an opportunity to raise awareness of the anti-microbial resistance worldwide, as well as to encourage best practices among the public, health workers and policy-makers in order to avoid the emergence and spread of drug resistant infections.
According to Dr Mangwiro, antimicrobials are critical tools used to fight diseases in humans, animals and plants.It is added that they include antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals and anti-protozoas.
This year’s theme for the commemorations is: “Spread Awareness, Stop Resistance.”
“As a country and government, we commit to commemorate this week annually in an effort to keep AMR prevention and control high on the national agenda,” Dr Mangwiro said on behalf of the Minister of Health and Child Care.
It is also reported that the emergence and spread of drug-resistant pathogens that have acquired new resistance mechanisms, leading to antimicrobial resistance continue to threaten the ability to treat common infections.
It is also added that equally alarming is the rapid global spread of the multi and pan-resistant bacteria also known as “superbugs” that cause infections which cannot be treated with existing antimicrobial medicines such as antibiotics.
According to Dr Mangwiro, Zimbabwe launched its National Antimicrobial Resistance programme in 2015 when it instituted its AMR core group.
It is reported that the multi-sectoral group, which includes representatives from the human health, animal health, environmental science sectors, academia, civil society and laboratory disciplines has made tremendous strides in moving the programme forward.
It is also added that in September 2017, a situational analysis, National Action Plan and a number of initiatives have been implemented under the plan.
It is also reported that a number of awareness activities have also been implemented to disseminate information on the dangers of AMR, as well as the steps that should be taken to avert it.
According to the Deputy Minister, the successes have contributed to the programme securing two flagship grants, namely the Fleming Fund grant and the Multi-Partner Trust Fund (MPTF) supported by the governments of Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Sweden.
The Fleming Fund has provided a grant to the tune of 4 million pounds.
The ministry of Health and Child Care says that the country continues to scale up capacity of laboratories mandated to analyze target pathogens.
This is reported to ensure enhanced antimicrobial testing so that resistant pathogens can be identified and appropriate action taken.
It is also added that the National Microbiology Reference Laboratory and the Central Veterinary Laboratory have been renovated. Also 12 laboratories throughout the country’s provinces in the human, animal health and environmental science sectors are expected earmarked for upgrading.