MTaPS-Supported AMR Day in Ethiopia Highlights Leadership and One Health
The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes antimicrobial resistance (AMR) as a public health and economic threat, with most AMR deaths happening in low-resource settings. Several studies conducted revealed that resistance to antibiotics is a significant challenge in Ethiopia, affecting the human, agricultural, and environmental sectors. Causes include behavioral factors such as overuse, underuse, or misuse of antimicrobials and poor infection prevention and control (IPC) practices at health facilities. The Government of Ethiopia has designed and implemented multifaceted interventions to build and strengthen multisectoral coordination to control AMR, improve IPC, and optimize the use of antimicrobials by promoting antimicrobial stewardship programs.
As part of its AMR control efforts, Ethiopia marks the annual Antimicrobial Resistance Day (AMR Day) to build awareness and create a forum for multistakeholder dialogue on AMR prevention and containment. The US Agency for International Development (USAID) Medicines, Technologies, and Pharmaceutical Services (MTaPS) Program supported the 2023 AMR Day on June 22, organized in collaboration with the Ethiopian Pharmaceutical Association, the Ministry of Health, and WHO. More than 100 delegates and experts participated, including the media and government and civil society representatives from the human health, animal health, environmental, and agricultural sectors.
During her opening remarks, Director General of the Ethiopian Food and Drug Authority (EFDA) Heran Gerba highlighted the multifaceted nature of AMR, which demands multisectoral interventions. She noted that the theme of this year’s AMR Day, “Leadership in AMR Prevention and Containment”, blends two critical issues—leadership and AMR—that are directly linked to the 5th strategic objective, governance, and alliance, of the global and national action plans on AMR. The EFDA is among the key stakeholders working to combat misuse and overuse of antimicrobials and is leading several efforts, including the recent revision of the National Essential Medicines List, where antibiotics are categorized under the Access, Watch, and Reserve classification to optimize use; revising the over-the-counter medicines list to strengthen control of medicines; and conducting assessments to gather data on antimicrobial consumption and circulation of substandard and falsified medicines.
“AMR is a big challenge, but if we implement our respective interventions identified in our strategic plan with strong leadership commitment, we can prevent and contain AMR. I strongly urge participants of this forum to prioritize addressing the dangers of AMR so that we all can do our part, with leaders playing a crucial role.” – Heran Gerba
Other speakers, including Mr. Atalay Mulu of Addis Ababa University and Mr. Hailu Tadeg, Country Project Director of MTaPS Ethiopia, emphasized the importance of leadership and the One Health approach to AMR containment. Mr. Mulu noted the need for partnership, as AMR is a borderless crisis with significant clinical, economic, and political impacts. Mr. Tadeg underscored the need to apply leadership principles to AMR control efforts and called on all stakeholders to take specific actions, saying,
“There is a need to improve leadership commitment, resolve leadership gaps from all sectors at all levels, and strengthen collaboration between sectors and stakeholders. Regular performance review and generating evidence for decision making are critical, while all efforts need to incorporate sustainability of gains.”
The day’s theme of leadership in AMR prevention and containment prevailed throughout the multistakeholder panel discussion and presentations of three papers on country experiences related to AMR prevention and containment governance, research and surveillance in AMR prevention and containment, and regulation in AMR prevention and containment. Closing the event, Mr. Noah Mathew Sprafkin, ID Team Leader of USAID, reiterated the significance of strong leadership.
“The US government, through its agencies, has been actively supporting and participating in the AMR Day since its inception in 2013 by promoting the use of the One Health platform”, he said. “In partnership with global health international organizations, the US government will continue supporting the Ethiopian government in strengthening AMR surveillance, building capacities, and enhancing knowledge and dissemination to all sectors of the society.”
This year’s AMR Day commemoration was an opportunity for all stakeholders to recommit to contributing to AMR prevention and containment and a reminder of the importance of fostering responsible use of antimicrobials, promoting IPC measures, and raising awareness of antimicrobial stewardship by conveying messages of collective effort.