Minister Anywar calls attention towards antimicrobial resistance in Uganda

(Last Updated On: 22 December 2023)

Gulu I The Minister of State for Environment and a member of the Global Leaders Group on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) has called upon leaders and different stakeholders to draw more attention towards antimicrobial resistance.

Minister Beatrice Anywar Atim (MP) made this call during the 3rd Annual Global Media Forum on Antimicrobial Resistance, noting that the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on AMR in 2024 should draw more efforts towards AMR.

“We are at a critical point in time to act against Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR). We are less than a year from the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on AMR in 2024. The attention to AMR is growing and it is rightly so,” Anywar said.

According to Anywar, the UN High-Level Meeting on AMR next year is a critical opportunity to further accelerate the response to AMR.

She also said that AMR is associated with nearly 5 million human deaths every year which occur overwhelmingly in low-and-middle-income countries like Uganda because in these countries the burden of diseases is the greatest and the causes of AMR are complex, and interrelated to overuse and misuse of antimicrobial medicines in human and animal health sectors.

“This misuse and overuse of antimicrobial medicines is driving the development of AMR, and lack of sanitation hygiene and waste management across sectors are further fueling its spread while the economic cost of AMR is enormous,” Anywar added.

Uganda is spearheading action against AMR across sectors such as human health, animal health, food and agriculture, and the environment and is also working with the Global Leaders Group on AMR to heighten the political action to advance progress in combating AMR with One Health approach.

“We need to unpack issues related to AMR and simplify the scientific language around it so that common people such as farmers can understand the problem and address overuse or misuse of antimicrobials,” the minister noted.

Joseph Thomas, Head of AMR Awareness, Advocacy and Campaigns at WHO, Geneva, said that there is a huge burden of morbidity and healthcare expenditure that can affect household welfare severely.

According to Thomas, the World Bank estimates that the Global GDP could fall by USD1 to USD3.4 trillion annually after 2030 due to antimicrobial resistance.

“Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) makes infections difficult or impossible to treat. AMR is a problem driven by misuse and overuse of antimicrobial medicines, including antibiotics and antivirals, and results in critical medicines losing effectiveness to treat infections,” Thomas said.

He further said that there are several issues of access and equity affecting AMR while research and development of new treatment options, including new antibiotics is not prioritized due to a sector-wide market failure.

According to him, as a result, “We are running out of treatment options and new drugs are not coming into the market, even when new medicines finally reach the market, low-income countries are not able to access these due to intellectual property and pricing constraints.”

However, he said that antimicrobials should be regarded as global public goods and governments should strengthen their health systems and push for universal health coverage so that all persons have access to needed antimicrobials prescribed by registered healthcare providers.

Also read: Locals in Pader sub-county decry shortages of anti-malarial drugs 

“People working on AMR can learn from the rich history of HIV programmes especially in increasing awareness, securing behaviour change and in promoting local, national and global advocacy to address AMR effectively,” he noted.

Javier Yugueros Macros, Head of the Department of Antimicrobial Resistance and Veterinary Products, World Organization for Animal Health, said that approximately 75 per cent of antibiotics are not absorbed by the animals and are released into water and soil which can directly contaminate and harm the surrounding environment.

Yugueros said that in humans, antimicrobial resistance takes place as a result of the misuse of antibiotics and there are no simple solutions because developing a new antibiotic can take 10-15 years and cost more than USD1 billion.

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“In 2019, 5 million human deaths worldwide were associated with bacterial AMR, of which 1.3 million human deaths were directly attributable to bacterial AMR. Up to 28 million could be pushed into extreme poverty if AMR is not addressed,” he revealed.

To him, that is why all sectors across the One Health spectrum spanning human, animal, plant, and the environment must work together to ensure the responsible use of antimicrobials while taking preventive measures to decrease the incidence of infections.

However, Wondwosen Asnake Kibret, Policy and Partnerships Coordinator, UN Environment Programme (UNEP) said that there is a need to bridge the knowledge action gaps because information is not enough and has not been translated into knowledge and action.

“When it comes to addressing Antimicrobial Resistance or AMR, information is not enough because information has to be translated into knowledge and action. We need to bridge that knowledge action gap,” Kibret said.

According to Kibret, even at the local level including at household, community, school or organizational level, there must be something done to make a difference.

However, Kibret warned that people should stop misappropriate or inappropriate use of antimicrobials in human health, animal health and livestock, food and agriculture, and the environment but promote appropriate use of antimicrobials.

“That is why quadripartite agencies of FAO, UNEP, WHO and WOAH have united to advance progress on One Health approach in addressing challenges such as AMR.”

In Uganda, in 2019, there were 7,100 deaths attributable to AMR and 30,700 deaths associated with AMR. Uganda has the 165th highest age-standardized mortality rate per 100,000 populations associated with AMR across 204 countries.


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