Beginning of May, ReAct and EPN in partnership with the AMR Media Network Kenya conducted a one-day media training on antimicrobial resistance. The purpose was to raise awareness among journalists on antimicrobial resistance as a major public health challenge. The day was hosted by the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI).
Help journalists understand antimicrobial resistance
Tapping into the role and reach of the media, the workshop intended to help journalists understand antimicrobial resistance, in particular antibiotic resistance, and their own role in promoting efforts and interventions to slow resistance rates. The day brought together journalists from 15 media outlets, radio, print and television.
Dr. Kombe, Acting Director of the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) opened the training with a passionate speech that highlighted the available evidence of antimicrobial resistance, its effect on both human and animal health and the cost of not doing anything.
Dr. Kombe gave the journalists figures such as: annual deaths globally will increase to about 10 million by 2050 if nothing is done and that this is a real problem affecting Kenyans today.
Lack of awareness major contributor to challenge of antimicrobial resistance
“There are many factors that have and are contributing to the rise of antimicrobial resistance, from indiscriminate use of antimicrobials in both the human and animal sector (quite common in Kenya), lack of access to quality assured antimicrobials, use of antibiotics as growth promoters in the animal sector to exposure through the environment to mention but a few.
One major contributor is the lack of awareness of this problem in the communities about the problem and its impact on treatment of infectious diseases. This is where you as the media can help with your skills. You can help by raising awareness of the problem of antimicrobial resistance, sharing solutions and practices that can slow it down and working with academic institutions, CSOs and NGOs and the government in sharing best practices, encouraging discussions, sharing research findings and being watchdogs to ensure we are all playing our part in country and global efforts.” urged Dr. Mirfin Mpundu, Head of ReAct Africa, in his address to the group.
Irrational antibiotic use in food and agriculture
The workshop was expertly facilitated by leading advocates of rational antimicrobial use in Kenya.
Dr. Moses Gichia (former coordinator: FAO/WHO Africa Region Codex Committee) elaborated on the dangers of irrational antibiotic use in food and agriculture and the cyclical nature of this misuse. An irrational use of antibiotics in production, that affects human beings who consummate the food. Alarmingly, Dr. Gichia pointed out that currently, 70% of antibiotic use is in the animal sector. From this high percentage, under a third are administered in the treatment of diseases, while over two-thirds are administered for the purpose of disease prevention (prophylaxis) and to increase animal production.
The training ended with each participant developing a 6-month action plan geared towards creating awareness to the public on antibiotic and antimicrobial resistance.
Role of media in health reporting
The role of the media in Health Reporting, facilitated by Davis Mkoji (Head, corporate Affairs KEMRI & chair, AMR Media Network) brought the workshop to its main objective of raising awareness of antimicrobial use and antimicrobial resistance to the public through the media. Mr. Mkoji urged that an information bridge was needed to be built between the media and scientists in order to prevent inaccurate reporting on antimicrobial resistance by “building journalists skills to interpret and report on antimicrobial resistance and, similarly, build researchers’ knowledge and skills to communicate to non-specialist audience for the greater good of the public.”
Proactive media engagement
Following a round-table discussion on proactive media engagement, the training ended with each participant developing a 6-month action plan geared towards creating awareness to the public on antibiotic and antimicrobial resistance. An award ceremony will be held in November 2017 to award journalists who would have excelled in implementing their plans.