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Senegal | FAO promotes pioneering initiative to help tackle antimicrobial resistance

Senegal | FAO promotes pioneering initiative to help tackle antimicrobial resistance

03/12/2020

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a major global threat of increasing concern to human, animal, plant and environmental health. It has implications for food safety, food security and the economic wellbeing of millions of farming households. The health consequences and economic costs of AMR are estimated at 10 million human fatalities annually and a 2 to 3.5 percent decrease in global gross domestic product, or USD 100 trillion, by 2050. 

In Senegal, to address the issue, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) through its Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD), has incorporated an awareness and advocacy component into its AMR support efforts. A pioneering initiative in the West and Central Africa region, FAO Senegal has put a strong emphasis on the fight against AMR and has contributed to the implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) on AMR. Thanks to the support of the United States Agency for International Development, FAO has also provided its expertise to strengthen the capacities of the Directorate of Veterinary Services (DSV) by training 29 food hygiene and animal health laboratory staff on techniques for the detection and identification of antibiotic-resistant germs, through the systematic use of antibiograms. 

Baba Soumare, FAO ECTAD Regional Manager for West and Central Africa, states that “The fight against antimicrobial resistance has become a global necessity for which all countries are challenged. West and Central African countries are generally lagging far behind or even have no policy to deal with it. Senegal currently has a clear lead over the majority of African countries, although there is still a long way to go. The work being carried out in the country can serve as a proven model and enable rapid progress to be made at the regional level.”

With its strategy aimed at expanding human resource capacities and sensitization, the project has successfully brought together actors from the central levels (37 staff from the Ministry of Commerce) and from decentralized levels (30 veterinary practitioners) to acquire new knowledge about AMR, as it is an emerging problem in the country. 

One of the major results of the fight against AMR resulted from the knowledge analysis practice survey carried out to identify good practices and promote decisions and recommendations against AMR under the One Health approach

This survey has been developed as an institutional tool for the operationalization and support of the AMR NAP and its results have revealed significant gaps in relation to AMR, which FAO Senegal has addressed by conducting training on animal health laboratories, public health and veterinary professionals in four regions.  

FAO ECTAD, in collaboration with the Chair of Antibiology of the Faculty of Medicine, Pharmacy and Odontology at the Cheikh Anta Diop University of Dakar, is supporting the Government of Senegal in the training of health professionals. In recognition of the importance of strengthening public and animal health capacities on AMR, an  inter-university international diploma on AMR has been created. A total of 31 health professionals, including nine veterinarians, were able to obtain the diploma on detection and surveillance of AMR and the prudent use of antimicrobials. This has facilitated the inclusion of AMR in national public and academic agendas, and contributed to capacity development in this area. 

Soumare explains that the cohorts of professionals trained “have the capacity to prevent, detect and raise awareness about AMR in order to monitor the country's animal health and production policies." According to the FAO ECTAD Regional Manager, this training provides a better understanding of "the phenomenon of AMR occurrence, as well as the epidemiology of resistant microbial agents".

AMR, considered a major public health risk, is a priority for international agencies responsible for human, animal and environmental health under the International Health Regulations. The World Health Organization (WHO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and FAO have established an ad hoc tripartite working group, led by WHO, to address the issue of AMR.

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