News and Opinions  –  2021

4 key takeaways from the virtual ReAct Africa Conference 2020

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2021-01-27

React Africa and South Centre hosted their third annual conference from 1st to 4th December 2020, under the theme, “What is the status of the Antimicrobial Resistance National Action Plans in the African Region?” The conference was held as a virtual event due to COVID-19 restrictions on travel and public gatherings. A full conference report will be shared within 3 weeks. At a glance though, there where 4 key takeaways from the conference. To access the report e-mail: musonda.lamba@reactafrica.org

Participants joined the conference virtually. Print screen: ReAct Africa.

The four day conference had over 100 participants representing 35 countries and various sectors including, human health, animal health and environmental health. The event also had participation from experts from the regional Tripartite (OIE, FAO & WHO-AFRO), various civil society organizations, International Centre for Antimicrobial Resistance Solutions (ICARS), the World Bank, Fleming Fund and Wellcome Trust among others.

Dr. Mirfin Mpundu, Director of ReAct Africa, opened the virtual event. He moderated the first session and provided an overarching reflection on the previous conferences which have addressed antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in relation to different agenda’s and sectors.

Previous themes have included:

  • Sustainable Development Goals and antimicrobial resistance
  • Universal Health Coverage and antimicrobial resistance
  • National Action Plans (NAP) on AMR development and Implementation among others

He noted that it was time for African countries to take stock and reflect on the status of their NAP implementation, as most countries were in their 2nd and 3rd year since their plans got approved. The conference sought to address progress made, take note of successes and challenges, share future plans and share best practices.

4 key takeaways

A full conference report will be shared within 3 weeks.
To access the report e-mail: musonda.lamba@reactafrica.org

At a glance though these where some takeaways from the conference.

1, AMR NAP progress encouraging though quite slow

The progress is encouraging though quite slow, the number of countries with AMR NAPs has increased to 36 from 33 the previous year. A number of countries are conducting some activities in all the 5 strategic areas of the Global Action Plan on AMR such as awareness and knowledge building, antimicrobial stewardship and Infection Prevention & Control and surveillance.

2, Multi-sectorial collaborations and coordination major challenge

Multi-sectoral collaborations and coordination remain one of the major challenges for most countries in the region. Strengthening governance and dedicating more resources to activities will act as a catalyst for successful National Action Plan implementation.

3, Need for strengthening integrated surveillance systems

A number of countries noted that surveillance remains a major issue, actionable data is still missing. Resources are a major challenge for setting up integrated surveillance system. Despite the support of Fleming Fund which is greatly appreciated, most countries do not qualify as focus countries.

4, Leveraging on Infection Prevention & Control campaign and WASH implementation

There are a lot of behind the scene actions in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic which can be applied in addressing antimicrobial resistance such as Infection Prevention & Control (IPC) and WASH. The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the need to invest into Infection Prevention & Control and WASH and provided an opportunity to create awareness on Infection Prevention & Control and strengthen Infection Prevention & Control activities in most health facilities. There is also a strong multi sectoral collaboration and financial support. Nigeria has by the same token taken advantage of the COVID-19 response in implementing the AMR NAP by leveraging on Infection Prevention & Control outputs and hand hygiene campaigns.

Day 1 – engaging CSOs, individuals and academics key factor for success

The opening session was followed by a key note address from Prof. Otto Cars, Founder and Senior Adviser of ReAct who officially started off the conference discussions with a presentation in which he addressed antimicrobial resistance as the silent pandemic. He noted that despite antimicrobial resistance being invisible, engaging civil society organizations, individuals and academic professions is a key factor towards success. He further expressed:

“If these networks could be mandated and funded to support the implementation of the National Action Plans, I think we will drive this process quicker, forward”.

The second session was moderated by Dr. Viviana M. Tellez, Coordinator of Health, Intellectual Property and Biodiversity Program for South Centre. She gave a brief reflection on the current challenges of developing countries and the connections between national and global processes particularly on the policy front.

Day 1 was concluded by presentations from the regional Tripartite organizations (OIE, FAO & WHO-AFRO) who have been providing technical support and funders ICARS, World Bank, Fleming Fund and Wellcome Trust, who all shared the areas they support with examples and expressed their plans to continue supporting the African region in continuing with the implementation of antimicrobial resistance.

Countries that participated in the conference

Italy, Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya, United Kingdom, Sweden, Denmark, Uganda, Ghana, Namibia, South Africa, Germany, India, United States of America, Malawi, Switzerland, Ecuador, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Egypt, Lesotho, Chad, Guinea Bissau, Cameron, Botswana, Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Congo, Finland, Mexico, Argentina, Côte d’Ivoire , Australia, Peru.

Day 2 and 3 – country progress reports

Day 2 and 3 focused on country progress reports on AMR NAP implementation. Country specific presentations were made by 7 African countries (Ethiopia, Nigeria, Zambia, Cameroon, Kenya, Senegal and Zimbabwe). Discussions were centered on current NAP progress and statuses, challenges, opportunities and best practices.

Further discussions were conducted in smaller break-out session groups with sub-topics on:

  • Infection Prevention & Control,
  • antimicrobial stewardship
  • surveillance,
  • awareness and
  • issues surrounding COVID-19 and AMR.

The last day featured presentations from Innovate4AMR students and the virtual launch of the Community of Practice (COP) platform by Dr Mpundu.