Kenya Intensifies Fight Against Antimicrobial Resistance

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With the support of development partners, the Government of Kenya has taken several measures across various sectors to intensify action against Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).

This is through implementing the National Policy and Action Plan on antimicrobial resistance and accompanying strategies on Surveillance, Communication, Infection Prevention, and Control and Antimicrobial Stewardship.

Speaking during the AMR stakeholders forum on Thursday, Dr. Rashid Aman, Chief Administrative Secretary in the Ministry of Health, said the implementation of the policy is underway and geared towards addressing the challenges identified in the situation analysis on awareness, surveillance systems, infection prevention and control, rational use of antibiotics and research and development.

The CAS noted that because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, several studies globally have indicated a high rate of antimicrobial prescribing and self-medication for those with symptoms of Covid-19, much of which unnecessarily promote antimicrobial resistance as most of the initial illnesses being treated have been from covid-19 viral infection.

"Optimal utilization on microbiology laboratories is critical in ensuring that the continuous engagement of patients, the clinical and laboratory teams supporting the judicious use of antimicrobial agents continues as guided by our National Antimicrobial Stewardship Guidelines," the CAS said.

From the 2021 AMR Surveillance report, he said that Kenya is no exception to this threat, with increasing rates of antimicrobial resistance being reported in our hospitals and communities.

Studies have predicted a continued rise in antimicrobial resistance globally, leading to 10 million people dying yearly and a 3% reduction in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2050.

The GRAM report 2022 estimated that at least 1.27 million deaths per year are directly attributable to AMR. In 2019, the highest rates of AMR burden were in sub-Saharan Africa, where six pathogens accounted for 73·4% of deaths, and 1 in 5 deaths caused by AMR occurred in children under the age of five – often from previously treatable infections.

"This new evidence shows that AMR is a leading cause of death globally, higher than HIV/AIDs or Malaria, a warning signal that AMR is already putting extra pressure on frontline healthcare workers by making common infections harder to treat and preventing them from saving millions of lives," the CAS warned.

He noted that these trends can quickly reverse the gains made in the fight against infectious diseases and threaten advancement in modern medicine.

In addition, with the increasing levels of international travel and trade, antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global public health, food security, and development. If left unchecked will significantly hamper the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Dr. Aman called for accelerated action in curbing the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance in the next version of the National Action Plan, targeting eliminating or significantly reducing over-the-counter sales of antimicrobial drugs that are important for medical or veterinary purposes, reducing the overall need for antimicrobial drugs by improving infection prevention and control, hygiene, biosecurity, and vaccination program in humans, agriculture and aquaculture.

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