23 July 2020, Kigali — Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is supporting the government of Rwanda to develop her first ever National Action Plan to combat Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).
The plan will guide the country’s efforts in the prevention, slow down, and control of the spread of resistant organisms while ensuring the continuous availability of safe, effective and quality-assured antimicrobials and their optimal use.
The four year national plan (2020-2024) is being drafted under the now operationalized One Health Platform, thanks to the financial support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
It underscores the need for an effective “One Health” approach involving coordination among numerous international sectors and actors, including human and veterinary medicine, agriculture and environment.
What is stake?
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) threatens the effective prevention and treatment of an ever-increasing range of infections caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi.
The increasing incidence of AMR pathogens, and the associated health and economic impact, stands as a defining 21st century challenge.
In the absence of interventions, AMR-associated human mortality is projected to soar from a current rate of 700 000 to over 10 million annually by 2050. Africa is expected to account substantial proportion of this projected global mortality.
Why the Action Plan to combat AMR is important
The Rwanda national action plan is needed to provide the basis for an assessment of the resource needs to deal with AMR.
Otto Vianney Muhinda, Assistant FAO Representative/Programme, said: “Decreasing AMR risks to human, animal and environmental health, requires first a good understanding of where and why risks exist. The threats from food safety and AMR are of prime concern to every country in the world”.
This understanding can be built through development of Multi-Sectoral National Action Plan to combat AMR in Rwanda.
Some of the emerging and re-emerging diseases globally have a pandemic potential spreading across continents in a relatively short span of time. These disease threats have serious repercussions on food security and livelihoods of the people, animals and environment.
Where it all starts
Although, human and animal health sectors do their own sector-specific risk assessments for AMR, to fully understand and manage AMR threats, information and expertise from all the relevant sectors must be brought together and these risks assessed jointly.
Developing the National Action Plan to combat antimicrobial resistance requires a Multi-Sectoral technical forum of professionals from different fields.
Charles Karangwa, is the Acting Director General of Rwanda Food and Drugs Authority (Rwanda FDA) in the Ministry of Health. He stressed that no single institution or discipline can fight AMR on its own.
“It is clear that no one discipline or sector of society has enough knowledge and resources to prevent the emergence or resurgence of diseases in today‘s globalized world. The “One Health” approach offers the opportunity to acknowledge shared Multi-sectoral commitment, interests, and set common goals,” he said.
The Action Plan was drafted thanks to the expertise of personnel from the Food safety and AMR Technical Working Group, and other professionals from; Rwanda Food and Drugs Authority (Rwanda FDA), Ministry of Health (MoH), Rwanda Council of Veterinary Doctors (RCVD), Rwanda Council of Pharmacists, and the University of Rwanda.
Rwanda’s AMR plan puts into consideration regional and global Action Plans, as well as the UN Political Declaration of the High-level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage in its article number 76 on AMR.
Pillars of the AMR Nation Action plan
The main objectives of Rwanda National action plan to combat AMR are aligned with those of the global action plan on AMR which call for improving awareness and understanding of AMR through effective communication, education and training; and strengthening the knowledge and evidence base through surveillance and research.
It also seeks to reduce the incidence of infection through effective sanitation, hygiene and infection prevention measures; optimize the use of antimicrobial medicines in human and animal health; and, to develop the economic case for sustainable investment that takes account of the needs of all countries.
Previous support to the Rwanda One Health platform
With funds from USAID, FAO has previously provided technical support to strengthen the Rwanda One Health platform, reviewing and updating the One Health Strategic Plan (2019-2024) and One Health policy, developing the new Joint Risk Assessment (JRA) tool to boost Rwanda’s One Health operations to effectively control and manage zoonoses at the human-animal-environment interface.
The Organization has also trained Rwanda professionals in Good Emergency Management Practice (GEMP) to increase preparedness to disease outbreaks and decreasing the time needed to respond to a crisis.