End February Africa CDC and ReAct Africa convened a workshop targeting civil society organizations in the African region. The main objective of the workshop was to build capacity on antimicrobial resistance advocacy for civil society organizations working in human, animal, agriculture and environmental sectors, including those with substantial experience in advocating for health-related policy changes. Here are some key take aways from the workshop and actions for 2020.
Africa CDC and ReAct Africa convened a Capacity building and workforce development workshop targeting civil society organizations (CSOs) in the African region, in Nairobi, Kenya end February.
The main objective of the workshop was to build capacity on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) advocacy for civil society organizations working in human, animal, agriculture and environmental sectors – including those with substantial experience in advocating for health-related policy changes.
Experience of transforming public health policies into practice
As one of the priorities for implementing the Africa CDC Framework for AMR Control, Member States of the Africa Union and partners have recognized the need to mobilize and engage civil society organizations on AMR activities.
Civil society organizations have a long experience of transforming public health policies into practice through advocacy, education, and community organizing, but their involvement in antimicrobial resistance has been limited. Part of this is because of their lack of knowledge and skills in communicating a complex phenomenon like antimicrobial resistance.
Key take aways from the workshop
Below is a summary of some of the key takeaways from the workshop:
- A One health approach is vital in addressing antimicrobial resistance. Working closely as multi sectorial partners is essential if we are to have any success in containing antimicrobial resistance.
- Lack of awareness about antimicrobial resistance is a great challenge and key priority action in Africa among sectors.
- There is wealth of information on the tripartite websites on antimicrobial resistance including the ReAct Toolbox. Civil society organizations should utilize these resources in executing their various missions and catalyze action across sectors including supporting AMR National Action Plan implementation at the community and national levels. Their role is extremely important and they should utilize the documents and resources presented at global level to catalyze action at the regional, sub-regional and national levels.
- Civil society organizations have a responsibility to hold governments accountable to their commitments.
- Antimicrobial resistance is complex to measure and monitor, seems distant and most people cannot relate to it. Therefore we need to carefully package the right messages when communicating about antimicrobial resistance. Need to be tactful and reach out to members of parliament with well framed and packaged messages.
- Civil society organizations are partners in development and operate within the confines of the law.They need to demystify the notion that they are anti-government by showing the positive differences they make in communities.
- Civil society organizations are trusted and grounded in communities, they can use this as an asset to implement any interventions targeted at changing perceptions and bad behaviors towards antimicrobials especially antibiotics.
- Need to keep the conversation on antimicrobial resistance going, a platform such as the AMR Community of Practice (COP) that ReAct Africa will launch in 2020 will be instrumental in achieving this objective.
Key priority actions for 2020
The key priority actions for 2020 agreed upon after an interactive group work exercise included:
- Continue advocating to governments to prioritize prevention and containment of antimicrobial resistance through engaging Ministries of Health, Agriculture, Livestock, Environment, Education and Finance with a One Health approach.
- Holding governments accountable in the implementation of country National Action Plans using the One Health approach based on the national, regional and global commitments towards antimicrobial resistance.
- Need to learn from other countries on best practices, sharing of tools, assessments and results through a shared platform.
- Engaging media through elaborate communication plans for awareness including social media campaigns.
- Facilitate and advocate for the training of health workers on antimicrobial resistance including infection prevention control and antimicrobial resistance stewardship.
- Continue having awareness raising activities throughout the year culminating in the commemoration of the World Antibiotic Awareness Week 2020.
- Strengthening monitoring and evaluation processes and systems to encourage evidence-based decision making and highlight key challenges on antimicrobial resistance and utilize data collected on Global Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System (GLASS). Community scorecards on antimicrobial resistance also highlighted as a great way to track progress.
- Advocate for the educational sector to include antimicrobial resistance into primary, secondary and tertiary curriculums.
- Advocate for increased number of agriculture extension officers to guide farmers on good farming practices and effects of antimicrobial resistance.
The civil society organizations are committed to work together, share best practices and look at areas of possible synergistic collaboration in the priority actions that they agreed upon.
40 participants from 15 countries
The two-day workshop saw over 40 participants drawn from over 15 countries attend. The participants included representatives from various civil society organizations in Africa. Representatives from the tripartite (WHO, FAO, OIE) were also in attendance. Several speakers including:
Dr. David Soti (Ministry of Health Kenya & Africa CDC RCC)
Dr. Jay Varma (Senior Advisor to Africa CDC)
Dr. Mirfin Mpundu (Director of ReAct Africa)
Dr. Scott Newman (FAO)
Dr. Jane Lwoyero (OIE) and
Dr. Caroline Ryan (WHO)
among others shed light on various topics and aspects related to antimicrobial resistance.
The meeting was a great success and provided the civil society organizations with an opportunity to network, exchange ideas and share best practices.
The topics covered included: The Epidemiology of AMR; Global and regional scenario of AMR; One Health and AMR; Infection Prevention and Control; Governance including global Research & Development and funding scenario; Role of the tripartite organisations in AMR; Social Media for AMR Advocacy; Effective strategies for communication and campaign development; Status of National Action Plans(NAPs) on AMR in Africa and the Role of CSOs in addressing AMR among other topics.
The workshop was preceded by the first African CSO meeting on AMR, that was held in December 2018 in Addis Ababa. One major outcome from the meeting in 2018, was the need for Africa CDC to train CSOs on the comprehension and conceptualization of AMR and its importance, and provide coordination for CSOs working on AMR across member states.
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