FAO Regional Office for Africa

SADC takes bold move to fight AMR

SADC develops Strategy to fight AMR spread collectively

Johannesburg, 19 July 2018 – Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) is a huge problem, posing serious threats to human, animal, plant, and environmental health in both developed and developing countries. Reversing the threat of AMR before it reaches pandemic levels of global proportion calls for concerted efforts as no individual country can successfully do it alone.

As such, the Southern Africa Development Community  (SADC) member states have gathered to come up with an AMR Strategy, to be collectively implemented by the 15 countries. The SADC AMR Strategy is premised on One Health approach so as to realize synergies and opportunities within the human, animal, crop and environmental health sectors.

Representatives from human, animal, plant and environmental health professions, the academia as well as civic society met over two days in workshop co-organized by SADC and the tripartite (WHO/OIE/FAO), in South Africa to deliberate on the SADC AMR Strategy.

Speaking during the opening of the two day workshop, the FAO Subregional Coordinator for Southern Africa, Patrick Kormawa, said that the recent trends in globalization, ease of fast and long distance travel as well as increased international trade mean that resistant pathogens (disease causing germs) can be transmitted freely across national and regional borders.

“It is therefore important for Regional Economic Communities (RECs) such as the SADC, to develop strategies and action plans that will enable member states effectively address AMR from a regional perspective,” said Kormawa in a speech read on his behalf by Joyce Mulila-Mitti.

AMR a threat to attainment of SDGs

Kormawa added that such a regional agenda was important as was recently highlighted during high level discussions by global development partners.

“We are gradually and quickly recognizing that, although AMR has not specifically been included in the current list of indicators for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it pauses a substantial threat to the attainment of several of the SDGs, such as SDG 2 [Zero Hunger], SDG 3 [Good Health and Well-being], SDG 6 [Clean Water and Sanitation],” added Kormawa. He said it was thus imperative to mobilise local resources to undertake actions envisaged to be implemented in the fight against AMR.

Reversing AMR spread urgent

The OIE Subregional Representative for Southern Africa, Moetapele Letshwenyo, said the development of the SADC AMR Strategy was very appropriate and urgent in view of the various challenges that the region faces.

“AMR is especially a concern for Africa where the ground is fertile for it to set in, that is antimicrobials are over the counter medicines and freely available, and often handled by untrained persons. There are issues of under-dosing, and overuse, free flow of counterfeit drugs, taking advantage of weak regulatory controls across sectors,” said Letshwenyo.

It is envisaged that the SADC AMR Strategy would assist in harmonizing efforts to curb AMR and bring closer different stakeholders involved in its control in the Southern Africa region.

Speaking at the same occasion, Walter Fuller, representing WHO said statistics show that Africa was to be the hardest hit from the spread of AMR. “As such, the issue of AMR is very urgent and should be tackled with the urgency that it deserves. However, to be able to tackle it effectively, we must be pragmatic, we must collaborate and understand that AMR is a crosscutting issue,” said Fuller.

Domingos Gove, SADC Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Director said AMR has been on the recent agenda for SADC ministerial meetings that have been held and it was emphasized that countries should develop national action plans on AMR. Gove underlined that AMR, if not contained, will come at a huge human and financial cost for Africa.

In Southern Africa, resource partners, particularly the UK Government through the Fleming Fund have financially assisted the region implement AMR-specific projects, hold meetings as well as recruit critical staff.

The meeting resolved that the SADC strategy for the containment of AMR spread be developed for endorsement before the end of 2018.

Additional Resources:

1)    Reversing the spread of AMR in Zimbabwe

2)    Tackling AMR in Bangladesh – One Health Approach