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General News of Wednesday, 11 April 2018


Ghana launches Antimicrobial use, resistance policy and Action Plan

Ghana on Wednesday, launched its Policy on Antimicrobial Use and Resistance and a corresponding National and Action Plan (NAP), in line with the Global Action Plan adopted by the 68th World Health Assembly.

Both documents were launched in Accra by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, at a ceremony organised by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Ministries of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation; Food and Agriculture, and Fisheries and Aquaculture Development.

Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, the Minister of Health, in an address said the document had been informed by the need to contain the phenomenon of Antimicrobial resistance, which was currently affected both human and animal health, plants and the environment, and presently considered a threat to global public health.

He said further, the need to ensure sustainable measures towards achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC), were all in line with the Health Sector’s Medium Term Strategy, and the WHO guidelines for medicines policy developments.

He described Antimicrobial agents as substances that killed or slowed the growth of microbes, explaining that resistance occur when microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change in ways that rendered the medications used to cure the infections they cause ineffective, and may also cause a spread of the contagions to others.

He said Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) phenomenon could have far-reaching social, health and economic consequences on several sectors including human health, agriculture, aquaculture, apiculture, as well as the environment.

The benefits of ensuring AMR include the maintenance of food security, human health and environmental sustainability.

The Sector Minister said, the Policy would therefore provide direction and guidance for all stakeholders who were affected by or use antimicrobial agents, “thus, all actions in the relevant sectors would take alignment from this policy to ensure convergence of action and purpose, and to maximise our efforts in preserving this important group of medicines to protect the health of all”.

Mr Agyeman-Manu said the various elements of the Policy include interventions to improve awareness and understanding of AMR, strengthening knowledge and evidence-base for the policy and related actions, reduce incidence of infection, optimise use of antimicrobials, as well as develop economic case for sustainable investments in these agents.

He acknowledged all the hard work and inputs made by the various Directors under his outfit, and also the contributions of development partners, Civil Society Organisations, Research institutions and the academia among others.

He explained that the NAP was to give an implementable interpretation to the AMR policy, and was to be implemented over a five-year period with regular assessments on the progress of implementation, within a multi-stakeholder platform with mutual accountability.

He indicated that an inter-ministerial governing body with the respective Ministers, Chief Directors, Heads of Agencies and Departments, would provide overarching political oversight, while an AMR stakeholder and technical platform provide technical direction, and urged all the stakeholders to zoom right into implementation of the NAP.

Mr Agyeman-Manu said it was however hoped that the needed resources and governance regimes would enable the full implementation of the NAP, in such a manner as to ensure that the health system was protected from the AMR threat.

Dr Owen Laws Kaluwa, the WHO Country Representative, representing the tripartite, which include the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the International Organisation for Animal Health (IOE) said AMR accounted for an estimated 700, 000 deaths a year, and would account for 3.4 trillion dollars in Gross Domestic Product loss by 2030.

He said unless decisive actions were urgently taken, this problem would pose a serious threat to economic development and to national as well as global health.

H said the overuse and misuse of antimicrobials was accelerating this process, and urged the government to commit a budget to fund the implementation of the NAP.

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