FAO Regional Office for Africa

Zimbabwe: Adopting a One Health Approach to fighting Antimicrobial Resistance

Photo © FAO/ Edward Ogolla

30 June 2016, Harare - Antimicrobials, including antibiotics, antifungal, antimalarial and antiviral drugs, play a very critical role in combating infectious diseases in both human and veterinary medicine. However, in recent years there has been a dramatic increase in resistance to the antimicrobials used against common human and animal infectious illnesses and infections, thereby reducing treatment options, and affecting health systems and economies of nations. In response to the global threat of antimicrobial resistance, a Global Action Plan was endorsed under which, countries are required to develop national action plans on antimicrobial to combat antimicrobial resistance by May 2017.

It is in this regard that the Government of Zimbabwe through the Ministry of Agriculture Mechanization and Irrigation Development, the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Ministry of Environment and other key stakeholders, working with FAO and supported by the UK Government’s Fleming Fund, came together to develop national action plan to fight Antimicrobial Resistance.

This plan is based on the “One Health” concept, which has found the health of animals, the health of people, and the viability of ecosystems to be inextricably linked.

Zimbabwe becomes one of the first developing countries to start developing a “One Health National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance” with collaboration of the human, agricultural and environmental sectors working together rather than developing parallel plans for each sector. This is important as antimicrobial resistance can spread between humans, animals and through food and the environment.

Speaking at a multisectorial workshop held for the development of a One Health National Action Plan for Zimbabwe, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Mechanization and, Irrigation in charge for Livestock, Paddy Zhanda expressed deep concern about the rise of antimicrobial resistance and its potentially harmful effects on humans and animals. ‘This is becoming a cause of great concern, the time to take action against antimicrobial resistance is now,” he said.

The Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care, Aldrin Musiiwa spoke at the same workshop and noted that it is estimated that by 2050, antimicrobial resistance will be causing 10 million deaths annually worldwide costing the world US$10 trillion dollars.

This three-day workshop provided an opportunity for the different sectors of animal and human health, agriculture, feeds, environment, fisheries, pharmaceuticals and their regulatory bodies to come together to discuss the way forward and to contribute to the national action plan development. The “One Health” National Action Plan on AMR is being developed as part of the Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance (WHO, 2015), and is meant to contribute to reducing the threat of antimicrobial resistance across the world. 

Under the guidance of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and the World Health Organization (WHO) tripartite partnership, the National Action Plan for Zimbabwe will be finalized in early 2017.



Sithembile Siziba | FAO Zimbabwe Communications | +263-4-253655