Addressing gaps in surveillance of antimicrobial resistance in Zimbabwe

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Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a natural phenomenon in which microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites adapt to antimicrobial agents and cause drugs to become ineffective for treatment. Over the past two years, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Zimbabwe, with support from funding partners and the government, has set out to strengthen Zimbabwe’s capacity to monitor antimicrobial resistance by renovating and equipping 14 laboratories in three provinces. This process is part of the implementation of Zimbabwe’s National Action Plan (NAP) for antimicrobial resistance that was developed in 2017.

“I would like to reiterate WHO’s commitment to continue providing technical support to the Government of Zimbabwe and its various agencies. I take this opportunity to encourage you to emphasize the implementation of the One Health approach and find more innovative approaches to mobilizing resources to fund antimicrobial resistance interventions, and to preserve and scale up the results achieved to date” . On behalf of Patrice Tala, FAO Sub-Regional Coordinator for Southern Africa and FAO Representative in Zimbabwe.

In Zimbabwe, FAO in partnership with the Ministry of Land, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development (MoLAFWRD) through the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS), the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare (MoHCC) and the Ministry of Environment and Climate, the Tourism and Hospitality Industry (MECTHI) has crafted a single approach to health on the Specifically in promoting multisectoral platforms on antimicrobial resistance, emerging diseases and food safety through the establishment of collaboration and coordination with various stakeholders.

From May 9-13, 2022, FAO representatives, government officials, development partners, clinicians, scientists, farmers and the general public witnessed the commissioning and delivery of six refurbished, state-of-the-art sentinel laboratories in Manicaland and Masvingo. and two districts of Bulawayo in Zimbabwe – two in each district. The laboratory rehabilitation process began in 2019 as the country nominated 14 priority laboratories to participate in the pilot national surveillance of antimicrobial resistance using the integrated One Health approach. This was followed by capacity assessments that directed the formulation of technical specifications for scope of works for rehabilitation of infrastructure, equipment and procurement of reagents. A competitive bid procurement system for identifying suppliers has been implemented with the participation of all relevant stakeholders to ensure transparency and full compliance with agreed specifications. Upon contracting with the contractor, work began with close monitoring and supervision by the State Department of Public Works until the completion of the renovation work.

“In 2017, Zimbabwe developed a One Health National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance that is compatible with the Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance. During the development of the plan, the country conducted a comprehensive analysis of the AMR and AMU situation, which was among other weaknesses and gaps identified in the Our monitoring systems for antimicrobial resistance, the situation and conditions of our laboratories are dire.” “We appreciate the intervention of this program in the rehabilitation of laboratories,” said Dr. Nika, Senior Director in the Department of Veterinary Services.

“The laboratories have not only been renovated, but they have been developed to comply with international standards. Dr Nyika added during one of the commissioning ceremonies in the three provinces, these laboratories will be improved to obtain ISO17025 accreditation.

Renovating and equipping laboratories is an intermediate intervention that contributes to strengthening the country’s capacity to monitor antimicrobial resistance. However, the ultimate goal is to ensure the generation of antimicrobial resistance data and its consequent use by the country to monitor resistance patterns, inform policy and contribute to global monitoring databases. This will also feed and guide the formulation of the framework for action for the second phase of the National Action Plan, 2022-2027. In addition to this milestone, there will be consistent and iterative development of human resources diagnostic capabilities, and the improvement of quality management systems, data management and reporting on antimicrobial resistance. Furthermore, FAO will continue to provide technical assistance in the implementation of laboratories and their compliance with biosafety and biosecurity measures to enable them to reach international standards and gain ISO accreditation related to their scope of work.

“The country has made great strides in implementing a practically integrated One Health approach in its fight against antimicrobial resistance, thus breaking the sectoral silos and vertical approaches that have existed in the past. The nation is poised to make a significant footprint in its fight against antimicrobial resistance through this effective cross-sectoral collaboration. We can hope that this momentum will also reach the other pillars of One Heath which include food safety and zoonoses.

Distributed by the APO Group on behalf of the FAO Regional Office for Africa.

This press release was issued by the APO. The content is not monitored by the editorial team at African Business and the content has not been checked or validated by the editorial teams, scrutiny readers or fact-checkers. The issuer is solely responsible for the content of this advertisement.

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