Antimicrobial Resistance

Zimbabwe Faces the Challenge of Antimicrobial Resistance Head-On with Support from FAO and Fleming Fund


On 21st July in Harare, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) launched a project for engaging the food and agriculture sectors in Zimbabwe to combat Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) with support from UK Government’s Fleming Fund. Zimbabwe is moving ahead in the fight against dangerous microbes by developing an AMR National Action Plan (NAP) that integrates solutions for human health, animal health and the environment – an approach known as “One Health” – as part of the Global Action Plan (GAP) on AMR.

Antimicrobial resistance, or AMR, is a growing threat where the substances (“antimicrobials”) used to kill or neutralize pathogens lose their effectiveness because these pathogens have become immune. Antimicrobials span a wide range of treatments to control bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi and play a major role in agriculture and food safety, as well as in human and animal health.

Every year 700,000 people die because of AMR, this number will continue to rise in tandem with food production losses leading to food insecurity without global action.

“Zimbabwe has taken great strides in the fight against antimicrobial resistance ever since the 68th World Health Assembly meeting in 2015,” said Dr Sydney Makarawo, Principal Director, Curative Services at the Ministry of Health and Child Care. “As a Nation, we are looking forward to the implementation of our National Action Plan.”

“FAO is working alongside the World Health Organization (WHO), World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and other partners across sectors to support Zimbabwe in assessing and strengthening its response to AMR,” said Dr David Chimimba Phiri, FAO Representative and Sub Regional Coordinator for Southern Africa.

“With the backing of Fleming Fund, FAO’s Southern Africa and Zimbabwe arms are now implementing a plan to engage the food and agriculture sectors to assess and strengthen regulatory frameworks, improve laboratory capacities for surveillance of AMR and tracking of antimicrobial residues, and to help implement good practices for appropriate use of existing antimicrobials to help protect their effectiveness for when they are most urgently needed,” said Patrick Otto, Livestock Development Officer for FAO’s Subregional Office for Southern Africa.

Dr. Pious Makaya, Deputy Director of Veterinary Services, emphasized that the national strategy would need to address how to guide antimicrobial treatments for animals more effectively, saying, “Control of veterinary medicines will need to be increased and simultaneously strengthened without limiting access to animal keepers”.

Mr. Abraham Zivayi Matiza, Deputy Director at the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate commented that, “Monitoring and surveillance for AMR needs to be mainstreamed within the national strategy to scale down the emergence of AMR. It is important to work together and collaborate in areas such as the assessment of laboratories, which the Ministry of Environment has initiated through the Environmental Management Agency of Zimbabwe.”

“Antimicrobial resistance is putting the gains of the Millennium Development Goals at risk and endangers achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals,” added Dr Stanley Midzi, Health Systems Strengthening & Policies Advisor, who spoke on behalf of the WHO Representative to Zimbabwe, Dr. David Ojut Okello. “Antimicrobial resistant-microbes are found in people, animals, food, and the environment – in water, soil and air. They can spread between people and animals, and from person to person. Poor infection control, inadequate sanitary conditions and inappropriate food-handling encourage the spread of antimicrobial resistance. It is the duty of all of us to come together and fight this scourge.”

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