News and Opinions  –  2019

ReAct colleagues featured in WHO Bulletin as leading profiles in the work on reacting to antibiotic resistance

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2019-06-12

Two ReAct colleagues, Mirfin Mpundu, Head of ReAct Africa, and Otto Cars, founder of ReAct and Senior Strategic Adviser, have been featured in interviews in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization April and June issues. Common themes in these interviews are the limited action on antibiotic resistance in many countries, and that the problem of antibiotic resistance needs to be viewed from a systems perspective.

Mirfin Mpundu and Otto Cars, ReAct.

In their series to portrait people working in health-related areas, the Bulletin of the World Health Organization has featured two ReAct colleagues on their experiences and contributions to the problem of antibiotic resistance.

ReAct Africa annual conference a platform in the African region

Mirfin Mpundu, head of ReAct Africa, reflected partly on his experiences as a pharmacist in both the US, Zambia and other African countries. Since 2014 he is the Executive Director of the Ecumenical Pharmaceutical Network, a faith-based organization where ReAct Africa is hosted. Mirfin described some of the key aspects of ReAct Africa’s work and how he is working to support the development of National Action Plans on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) in several Africa countries, as well as how the ReAct Africa annual conference serves as a platform for bringing national champions on antimicrobial resistance together.

Mirfin Mpundu says:

” We now have about 25 countries in Africa that have National Action Plans, but there are only three or four that are actually implementing them. Similarly, we still have a long way to go in terms of mainstreaming antimicrobial resistance initiatives into health systems.”

AMR is a global system problem

Otto Cars, founder of ReAct and senior strategic adviser, gave his perspectives on the very slow progress of raising the problem of antibiotic resistance to the global attention and why ReAct was set up. A key element throughout Otto’s reflections was the systems perspective. To view antimicrobial resistance as a system problem is important from several perspectives.

As Otto Cars states:

“Any effort to move towards universal health coverage must take into account the many ways in which antimicrobial resistance will impact health systems as countries expand coverage and access. We also need to look beyond health, because AMR is an agricultural sector issue too, as well as an ecological issue.”

Another systems perspective is that there is a need to transform the broken eco-systems for innovation and development of new antibiotics.

“AMR is the result of multiple system failures and can only be managed by balancing innovation, access and conservation.”

AMR is a development issue

Finally, as AMR will have an impact on many systems that are critical for global development, we need to make clear that antimicrobial resistance is a development issue.

Otto Cars says:

“I also believe we need to open a dialogue with ministers of finance and development, making it clear that AMR is a development issue and the costs of not addressing it will be high, both in terms of human health and economic growth.”

In relation to what Mirfin brought up on the slow progress of action in implementing national action plans, Otto reflects on the needs for financing for capacity building at country level:

“There are national action plans in over 100 countries, but only around a fifth of these action plans are properly funded. I support the idea of mobilizing external catalytic funding to galvanize the implementation of national action plans.”

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