By Chioma Umeha
Ahead of the 70th World Health Assembly in May, 2017, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has pulled together experts from various Ministries and Agencies, academia and the private sector to chart a path towards a National Action Plan to combat Anti -Microbial Resistance (AMR) in Nigeria.
The group met for two days to review the country’s requirement to complete her National Action plan and enroll in the Global Antimicrobial Surveillance System (GLASS) of the World Health Organisation
The threat of a time when antibiotics will fail to serve their roles in combating infectious diseases is currently the biggest fear of the entire global health system.
Currently, reports of infections not responding to treatment with antibiotics are stressing countries around the world.
Global projections are that resistance will cost the entire world $100 Trillion by 2050, if nothing is done. It is currently deepening the burden of otherwise treatable diseases including malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and childhood infections.
As they contemplate resistance, many countries complain of an inability to provide appropriate access to antibiotics to those who are in dire need of them.
These factors coupled with the need to understand the scope of the challenge of antimicrobial resistance, and how best to combat it in Nigeria as a country, formed the basis for the convergence of this multi-sectorial think tank on antimicrobial resistance.
Enrollment on GLASS allows for transparent governance of AMR in countries, as well global assessment of state of the global health system.
Key expert recommendations are for countries to ensure a “One Health” and multi-stakeholder approach in the planning and implementation of their national antimicrobial resistance action planning and strategy.
For this reason, participants at the meeting ensured that considerations of Animal Health, the Environment and Human Health were properly factored into all deliberations.
Representatives of the Federal Ministry of Health, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Nigeria Institute of Pharmaceutical Research (NIPRD), Nigeria Institute of Medical Research, National Veterinary Research Institute and academia participated in the development of a framework for national situation analysis for AMR as well the development of an action plan on AMR for Nigeria.
Nigeria’s current commitment to controlling antimicrobial resistance began on the first day of assumption of office by President Muhammad Buhari when he shared this country’s commitment to the global goal of protecting citizens from disease threats.
This commitment was strengthened through Nigeria’s participation in World Health Assembly 2015 and the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) 2016 where Nigeria signed to play her part as a country in combating AMR.
During the last UNGA, Prof Isaac Adewole, Nigeria’s Minister of Health, warned against complacency that could follow the declaration’s adoption: “We must not only talk but act.The time is now to fully implement this document.”
In line with this global charge, the Federal Government immediately appointed the NCDC to take a lead on this initiative of coordinating all relevant national actors to ensure that the country fulfils this key milestone before the 70th World Health Assembly in May, 2017.
The burden of AMR is primarily due to misuse of antibiotics. The ultimate outcome of this national intervention is to help reduce the heavy burden from resistance by galvanizing Nigerians to use of antibiotics responsibly, to make a more precise assessment of the current situation and burden, and to drive a national capacity building and resource commitment to ensuring the threats of AMR is under check in Nigeria and beyond.
According to the Director of Planning, Research & Statistics of the NCDC, Dr. Joshua Obasanya, “We at the NCDC hold ourselves extremely accountable for this coordination effort, our work is to ensure all relevant actors participate in this.
“We want to make sure that the One Health approach is evident as we combat AMR is Nigeria. This is the only way to ensure our solutions are really sustainable.”
One of the technical leads at the meeting, Prof. Iruka Okeke of the Faculty of Pharmacy of the University of Ibadan also added that, “given the enthusiasm experienced during these sessions, I am optimistic that we will meet the required timeline towards a national action plan and AMR surveillance.