News and Opinions  –  2017

ReAct Africa: Preparing future guardians of AMR in Kenya

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In collaboration with the Ministry of Health, Kenya, WHO, EPN and ReAct Africa the team conducted a Continuous Medical Education (CME) exercise on 14 November at the Kenya Medical Training College in Nairobi, Kenya. The objective of this exercise was to sensitize students on the Ministry of Health’s policies on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) in public health across sectors and specifically, the importance of Infection and Prevention Programs in health facilities. This event, held on the third day of activities during the World Antibiotic Awareness Week, was a success as over two hundred Kenya Medical Training College students piled into an assembly hall on the Kenyatta National Hospital campus.

Dr. Nyakiba, Focal Point for AMR and Ministry of Health, Kenya, addresses the students.

In his welcome address, Mr. Amos Kipsumba, Deputy Principal, Academics, Kenya Medical Training College, thanked Ministry of Health, Kenya and ReAct Africa, for helping provide the students an opportunity to learn more about antimicrobial resistance from Dr. Jarred Nyakiba, Focal Point for AMR and Ministry of Health, Kenya. Veronica Kamau, Programme Officer, Ministry of Health, Kenya addressed the students, while ReAct Africa disseminated comic strips on antimicrobial resistance written in Swahili, specifically designed for university students. Also in attendance was Dr. Evelyn Wasangula the National Antimicrobial Resistance Focal Point, WHO. EPN was represented by Mercy Naitore, who sat on the Kenyan national AMR Steering Committee for the World Antibiotic Awareness Week activities.

Student at Kenya Medical Training College reading comic strip about antibiotic resistance.

Dr. Nyakiba spoke in great detail on precisely what antimicrobial resistance is. To demonstrate the real-life consequences of unnecessary antibiotic use, a video was shown, telling the story of an elderly woman’s death following a hospital stay, where several failures in care led to an infection, that was erroneously treated with antibiotics. This treatment, sadly, created antibiotic resistance and the woman died when got a secondary infection weeks later. The antibiotics administered did not work. This drew many reactions from the students.

He also provided a list of antibiotics that have already started to show resistance and added that “AMR is in Kenya” and complacency in thinking it is a “western problem” is dangerous. In his final words to the students, Dr. Nyakiba tasked the students to become relentless in their vigilance in addressing the threat of antimicrobial resistance in their careers as Kenya’s future pharmacists, clinical officers, health educators, community health workers, doctors, nurses, or in short: “Guardians of AMR”.

Learning what areas frequently are missed when washing hands.

Mrs. Kamau presented on hand hygiene in health and its pivotal role in infection prevention in health facilities. This was a practical presentation that the students participated in, demonstrating the correct hand-washing techniques and identified critical hand washing points, in a presented healthcare scenario. Most critical to Mrs. Kamau’s message, was another video, this one showing how the lack of proper hand washing practices can spread infections beyond the hospital walls.

“As a healthcare worker who will potentially come into contact with many infectious diseases, you have the potential to heal and spread those diseases to your entire community,”

concluded Mrs. Kamau to a riveted audience.

The exercise ended with a question & answer session followed by the dissemination of more material on antibiotic resistance.

Asked about her thoughts on the event, one first-year student responded with conviction:

“It was eye-opening. This is why I want to be a nurse and now, I can also become a “Guardian of AMR”.”