How can diagnostics contribute to contain antimicrobial resistance? That was the main question during the Regional Stakeholders’ Summit in Cape Town, South Africa, on the 30th of January 2018.
The Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) and the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) brought together over 100 stakeholders to discuss the role of diagnostics in reducing the antimicrobial resistance (AMR) burden. Experts, academia, medical doctors, policy makers and patients contributed to the discussions. On behalf of ReAct Africa Yvon de Jong joined the meeting, she participated in a panel discussing “Is Africa ready or able to fight AMR – and how can it contribute to the global fight?”
Out of the day ReAct Africa has summarized a list of the most mentioned needs that need to be attended to.
Need 1 – Point of care testing to differentiate between virus and bacterial infections
The biggest need highlighted by various stakeholders is affordable and high quality point of care testing to differentiate between virus and bacterial infections. Through availability of a test as such, unnecessary antibiotic use can be avoided. Various diagnostic supply companies presented that they are working on such a diagnostic and are in a far stage of testing. Crucial will be quick registration in the countries and access to the health workers and patients.
Need 2 – Surveillance data in low- and middle income countries to inform policies and treatment
Data on resistance patterns are essential to inform policy makers on actions required, but they are also key for the development of Standard Treatment Guidelines to ensure proper treatment. There should be guidelines on how to collect the data and clear structures need to come in place on reporting and actual use of the data.
Need 3 – Essential Diagnostics List from WHO
The Essential Medicines List from WHO has proven to be of incredible value for low- and middle income countries in decision making on what medicines should be available and what medicines the government should cover for. Having an Essential Diagnostics List in place will guide countries and facilities in procurement of testing equipment. It was mentioned that the WHO is currently working on such a list.
Need 4: Antimicrobial resistance needs to get a face
FIND and SAMRC had invited multiple MDR-TB and XDR-TB patients to share their story and advocate for change. It became clear from all discussions that antimicrobial resistance needs to get a face. A massive ‘marketing campaign’ is necessary to get the attention of the general public, health workers, policy makers, governments etc for the topic of antimicrobial resistance.
It was great to see that not only ReAct Africa highlighted the need for the one-health approach and involvement of civil society organizations. Many more acknowledged these as crucial to tackle the AMR problem.
Yvon de Jong, ReAct Africa states:
“It is exciting to see that the diagnostic sector is willing and ready to take up its responsibility in the AMR problem and I am looking forward to more sectors joining.”