14 -16 August, ReAct Africa and South Centre co-hosted the 6th regional AMR Conference. It was a successful mix of discussions, performances, posters, key note speakers and a common interest in a robust response to antimicrobial resistance. Here you find 14 key takeaways from the conference days.
14 -16 August, the conference was hosted in Lusaka, Zambia under the theme “Leave No One Behind: Advancing One Health Antimicrobial Resistance National Action Plans Implementation in Africa”. As many as 156 physical participants from 38 countries (29 African and 9 international) and136 virtual participants (with registrations from 67 countries worldwide) attended the hybrid meeting days.
ReAct Africa and South Centre co-hosted the 6th regional AMR Conference. This in partnership with International Centre for Antimicrobial Resistance Solutions (ICARS),Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership (GARD-P),AMR Policy Accelerator and support from The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), the Fleming Fund and the Ministry of Health Zambia through Zambia National Public Health Institute (ZNPHI).
Participants were welcomed by the Permanent Secretary for Administration – Ministry of Health Zambia who officiated the Conference on behalf of the Minister of Health Hon. Sylvia Masebo who attended the conference last year.
Professor Christopher Simoonga, on behalf of the Minister of health said:
“I wish to re-emphasize the government of Zambia’s commitment to the fight against AMR and the high importance placed in equitable quality healthcare services for all aligned to the Universal Health Coverage agenda, of ‘leaving no one behind’.”
Mixed group of participants
Participants comprised of representatives from the Quadripartite (FAO, WHO, WOAH & UNEP), Africa CDC, Ministry representatives from various countries, AMR focal persons, representatives from the human, animal and environmental sector, media representatives, students, members of civil society and researchers from across the African continent.
14 KEY TAKEAWAYS
1. Align local actions with global strategies
The conference stressed the critical role of local actions that align with global strategies to address antimicrobial resistance (AMR). A unified multi-sectoral approach that spans human, animal, and environmental health was identified as vital for a holistic One Health approach. In addition to international bodies like the WHO, the conference encouraged the engagement of other agencies to diversify and strengthen initiatives to act on antimicrobial resistance.
2. Political will and high-level engagement
Political will and high-level engagement were underlined as essential for prioritizing AMR programs both locally and globally. Regulatory frameworks, particularly international instruments on pandemic prevention and preparedness, including but not limited to the International Health Regulations 2005, that need revisiting to make them more inclusive of AMR concerns. Additionally, lessons from the Global Health Index report were highlighted to intensify efforts towards pandemic preparedness, making sure countries at all income levels are well-equipped to handle AMR challenges.
3. Community-based preventive interventions
Community-based preventive interventions and active engagement of marginalized populations in AMR control measures were noted as key components. Empowering community health workers as AMR ambassadors at the grassroots level is crucial for bridging the gap between communities and health institutions.
In addition, involving the faith sector as a key entry point to the community in Africa was also emphasized.
4. The role of data-driven decision-making
The role of data-driven decision-making was elevated, urging the leverage of existing structures like Africa CDC for robust surveillance and policy guidance.
5. Potential for locally generated solutions
The potential for locally generated solutions, particularly those emanating from pandemic response experiences, was recognized. These should be supported and scaled up by global health agencies.
6. Need for robust laboratory diagnostics and surveillance
The need for robust laboratory diagnostic networks and integrated regional surveillance was highlighted, given their critical role in AMR management.
7. Financing – the “great divide”
Financing emerged as a critical topic, specifically aimed at addressing the “great divide” by ensuring that AMR funding strategies consider the distinct challenges faced by different African regions.
8. Capacity building
The conference also emphasized the urgent need for capacity building among health workers at the grassroots level to understand the complexities of AMR.
9. Strengthening governance systems
Strengthening governance systems to effectively monitor and regulate antimicrobial use was seen as a crucial step in fostering accountability. Multi-stakeholder collaborations involving public and private sectors were urged to accelerate AMR control efforts. Engaging lawmakers to shape policies and regulations became evident as another vital component. Harmonization of National Action Plans, especially between the global north and the global south, was advocated to address the unique challenges faced by different African countries.
10. The need for a gender-inclusive AMR strategy
The conference underscored the need for a gender-inclusive AMR strategy, recognizing the differential impact of AMR on men and women. This involves assessing the unique vulnerabilities, needs, and strengths of different genders and ensuring policies and programs reflect these considerations. Cultural sensitivity and local customs must also be considered when promoting AMR awareness and practices.
11. Research and evidence-based policies
Research and evidence-based policies, in partnership with international research institutions, were highlighted as essential for a comprehensive AMR strategy.
12. Youth engagement
The conference also stressed the need for youth engagement, leveraging their energy, creativity, and digital skills for awareness and innovation.
13. Integrating AMR strategies into existing WASH progammes
The role of integrating AMR strategies into existing WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) programmes was recognized as essential for holistic health benefits. Other practical considerations included optimizing supply chains for AMR-related drugs and diagnostics and promoting local manufacturing capabilities.
14. Incentivizing private sector involvement tailored to Africa’s distinct challenges
The conference underscored the importance of incentivizing private sector involvement to develop AMR solutions tailored to Africa’s distinct challenges. Alongside this, the event highlighted the necessity for neighbouring African countries to collaborate and share best practices to harmonize AMR combatting efforts across the continent.
Financial and technical resources needed to address AMR comprehensively
It becomes abundantly clear that there is an immediate and pressing need for resources, both financial and technical, to address AMR comprehensively. It’s not just about health; it’s about ensuring a sustainable future for Africa. ReAct will continue to work toward being a catalyst for transformative change, ensuring that as we advance in the fight against AMR, truly no one is left behind.
A few photos from the conference days
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