By Faith Atieno

The World Health Organization (WHO) joined the Kenyan community in commemorating World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) to draw attention to the threat of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) arising from the misuse of antibiotics and other antimicrobials.

AMR occurs when the bacteria, fungi, virus and parasites adapt over time and no longer respond to medicine hence, making the disease hard to treat leading to it’s spread, severe illness and death.

“Antimicrobial resistance is one of the top 10 global public health threats facing humanity,” said Dr Adiele Onyenze, a representative from WHO, adding that this is because microbes adapt and protect themselves leading to drug-resistant infections.

Speaking during the National Hybrid Launch Event in Nairobi, he stated that to avoid further emergence and spread of drug-resistant infections, WAAW provides a platform and an opportunity to take stock of the progress in countries to prevent and contain AMR and encourage best practices among the public, health workers and policy makers.

“In the WHO African Region, more than half of all deaths are caused by communicable diseases that are treated by antimicrobials. The threat of resistance therefore puts at risk decades of progress in controlling malaria, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and sexually transmitted infections,among others,” Onyenze said.

Dr. Onyenze marking the WAAW in Nairobi

According to WHO, AMR threatens the effective prevention and treatment of an ever increasing range of infections caused by bacteria, fungi, virus and parasites.

In line with this year’s theme “spread awareness, stop resistance”, the representative stated that WHO African Region member states have embraced the fight against antimicrobial resistance primarily through developing and implementing national action plans(NAPs) through a holistic and multisectoral approach- One-Health Approach.

One Health is a collaborative, multisectoral, and transdisciplinary approach, working at the local, regional, national, and global levels — with the goal of achieving optimal health outcomes.

It can be done through designing and implementing multisectoral programmes, policies and legislation and research across human, animals and plant health and environment.

In support of the One-Health Approach, WHO has championed partnerships with organizations such as the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), Africa CDC, the African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources, and the UN Environment Program (UNEP).

Participants at the WAAW in Nairobi

Onyenze highlighted that government actions are critical to bringing together different stakeholders including establishing dedicated national structures, platforms and budgets, and partnering with the private sector to limit the use of antibiotics in livestock and aquafarming as well as improve water and sanitation infrastructure to limit the spread of infections.

In that respect, he congratulated the Government of Kenya through the ministry of health agriculture and environment as he acknowledged the collaboration and active participation of multiple partners, stakeholders and the public in taking actions to spread awareness on the dangers of AMR and stop the misuse of antibiotics through commemorative events such as the WAAW.

Taking note of the launched documents, he pointed out that WHO has provided a broad support towards the initiatives to strengthen the fight against AMR in Kenya through training of national focal points, and technical support to adapt and apply WHO tools and methodologies to generate data and evidence on AMR.

“For example, WHO is currently supporting the Ministry of Health to assess and strengthen Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) and antimicrobial stewardship practices in 6 counties to improve the use of antimicrobials in health care facilities,” he said adding that the Organization is also supporting the pharmacy and poisons board to estimate the quantities of antimicrobials consumed in the country, in the human health sector.

Dr. Onyenze reaffirmed the organization’s commitment to continue working closely with the ministry of health and it’s agencies and to collaborate with other ministries and partners in order to effectively address the threat of AMR.

“I would like to reaffirm WHOs commitment to supporting the fight against AMR at global, regional and country levels. Together, let us spread awareness and stop antimicrobial resistance,” he said