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Kenya launches ‘One Health’ national plan and policy to tackle antimicrobial resistance

13/11/2017

Animal and human health experts march together through the streets of Nairobi during World Antibiotic Awareness Week to celebrate the launch of a new multi-sector plan to tackle AMR.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Kenya (FAOKE), with support from UK’s Fleming Fund, is celebrating the launch of Kenya’s ‘One Health’ National Action Plan (NAP) and Policy on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) during World Antibiotic Awareness Week (WAAW) with seminars to raise awareness of AMR among veterinarians and other stakeholders, and a ‘One Health’ march through the streets of Nairobi before the NAP ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The ‘One Health’ concept represents collaborative efforts to promote the interdependent health and well-being of people, animals and our environment.

As a symbol of this One Health approach for tackling AMR, representatives for human and animal health gathered Monday at Uhuru Park – one of the country’s largest – for a procession to Kenyatta National Hospital for the ceremonial launch of the AMR Policy and NAP.

The march was led by the Director of Veterinary Services and Kenya Administrative Police band, and included representatives from FAO, the World Health Organization (WHO), Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, the Ministry of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Ecumenical Pharmaceutical Network (EPN), Reaching African Children Together (ReACT), the Kenya Veterinary Association (KVA), Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), and University of Nairobi, among others.

At the NAP launch ceremony, Dr Cleopa Mailu, the Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Health, declared that,  “Kenya is no exception to this threat, with increasing rates of antimicrobial resistance among infections contributing the most to human disease nationally being reported in our hospitals and communities.’’

Dr Mailu stressed that with increasing levels of international travel and trade, antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development.

Dr Andrew Tuimur, principal secretary of the State Department for Livestock in the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Blue Economy, in his commentary after the event, said, “Together with the Ministry of Health, and, in collaboration with FAO, WHO, the Kenya Veterinary Association and other non-governmental organisations, we have developed a policy and communication strategy to address antibiotic resistance.”

The Kenya AMR Policy provides a framework for prioritizing actions to contain the emergence and spread of AMR, such as:

  • awareness raising through communication, education and training;
  • strengthening the evidence base for tracking antimicrobial use and resistance through improved surveillance and research;
  • reducing the incidence of infection to help reduce reliance on antimicrobials through effective sanitation, hygiene and infection prevention measures;
  • optimizing antimicrobial use in human and animal health; and
  • developing an economic case for sustainable investment that takes into account the needs of the country and investment into new medicines, diagnostics, tools, vaccines and other interventions.

Antibiotics and other antimicrobials are vital to control disease in people and animals, but their over-use and mis-use is reducing their potency as microbes ‘learn’ to tolerate these interventions much quicker when antimicrobials are used routinely and improperly.

“Antibiotics should be dispensed only under prescription,” said Dr Tuimur. “A farmer will not have the requisite information on what diseases a given antibiotic treats, the dosage and administration. This is crucial information anybody handling antibiotics must have.”

Given the difficulties of developing new antibiotics, we need to keep our life-saving medicines working for as long as possible and this means using them less often – only when truly needed – and using them responsibly according to the advice of qualified experts. This is a key focus of the Kenya AMR communication strategy, and the theme of this year’s World Antibiotic Awareness Week – seek expert advice to use antimicrobials responsibly.

A recent report by the World Bank Group estimates that by 2030, without global action, an additional 24 million people will be forced into extreme poverty, with low income countries hit hardest, threatening achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. And by 2050, the world will lose nearly 4% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – a loss of more than $6.1 trillion dollars per year. As AMR knocks out more of the antibiotics on which we all depend, more lives and livelihoods will come under threat.  

As Dr Tuimur said, “We have to jealously guard against antibiotic resistance through judicious use of what we have as we can’t afford the cost of total antibiotic resistance.”

Questions? Contact Antimicrobial-Resistance@fao.org

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