BY CHIKA OKEKE, Abuja
There is an indication that Low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) including Nigeria may likely lose between five to seven percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2050 to Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).
The AMR Focal Point, WHO, Dr Chavan Laxmikant stated this in Abuja on Wednesday in commemoration of 2023 World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) with the theme: “Preventing Antimicrobial Resistance Together.”
WAAW is a national campaign celebrated annually to improve awareness and understanding of AMR and encourage best practices among the public, One Health stakeholders and policymakers that play a critical role in reducing the emergence and spread of AMR.
World Health Organization (WHO) had revealed that there are 15 priority antibiotic-resistant pathogens that threatens human and animal health, and four of them were detected in Nigeria.
Laxmikant noted that AMR is central to several core Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including SDG-1 (No poverty), SDG-2 (Zero hunger), SDG-6 (clean water and sanitation), SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth), SDG-12 (responsible consumption and production) and SDG-17 (partnerships for the goals).
He noted that the WAAW week is an opportunity to come together, raise awareness and strengthen the ‘One Health approach’, pledging to preserve the efficacy of the important antimicrobials and related products.
The WHO focal point stressed the need for urgent action to address the main causes of AMR such as misuse and abuse of antimicrobial medicines, lack of access to clean water, poor sanitation and hygiene, poor infection prevention and control practices, and inadequate use of vaccines to decrease infections.
Others are inadequate laboratory capacity including equipment and reagents to guide proper treatment, poor waste disposal practices, presence of antimicrobials in food and animal production and crop protection, as well as the environment and water bodies.
Nigeria’s AMR Burden
Annually, AMR causes over 1. 27 million deaths especially in Low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) including Nigeria that accounts for nearly 90 per cent of the direct death toll.
Laxmikant said that AMR affects the health, economy, and development of countries across all sectors, as highlighted by the recently developed AMR situation analysis report.
He informed that WHO declared AMR as one of the top 10 global public health threats facing humanity, with nearly five million human deaths estimated to be associated with AMR globally in 2019.
“In Nigeria alone, in 2019, there were 64,500 deaths attributable and 263,400 deaths associated with AMR from pathogens such as S. pneumoniae, K. pneumoniae, E.coli and Staph aureus.
“AMR remained at the top of list as biggest contributor in overall and child mortality in Nigeria than HIV, TB or Malaria,” he added.
One Health Agenda
In line with President Bola Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda on Health, Nigeria launched the National One Health Ministerial Steering Committee (NOHSC) co-chaired by ministers from all relevant One Health stakeholders, with the support of development partners.
The plan was jointly developed by four line ministries implementing the one health agenda such as Federal Ministries of Agriculture and Food Security, Environment, Water Resources, and Health and Social Welfare.
Laxmikant disclosed that the steering committee promised to strengthen one health secretariat to address evidence-based scientific and policy advice to one health threats including antimicrobial resistance.
He said that the 64th National Council on Health approved the AMR Governance manual for national and sub-national response, as well to improve coordination, funding, and programming of AMR at the sub-national level.
The WHO focal point called on all implementing partners to standardise their approach on how to implement NAP-2.0 at the sub-national level.
“With much appreciation to AMR CC and NAP-2.0 development committee; now we have robust evidence based, costed, NAP -2.0 on AMR (2024 -2029) which have M&E plan, strategic & operational plan with targets and milestones as committed by Hon Minister of health on Muscat declaration -2023,” he said.
The WHO had supported the development and implementation of NAP-1.0 and continued to support Nigeria as a demonstration country with 3L of the unified approach as seen in NAP-2.0.
Laxmikant pledged to support accelerated efforts required to achieve the six strategic objectives of Nigeria’s National Action Plan -2.0 on AMR.
This, he believed would minimise the impact of AMR, adding that WHO had supported the development and implementation of NAP-1.0 and would continue to Nigeria with 3L of its unified approach as seen in NAP-2.0.
He maintained that 250 experts from Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), civil society organisations, private sector, international NGOs, quadripartite agencies, UN agencies and participants at the state level contributed in the development of NAP 2.0. for AMR.
Laxmikant enjoined stakeholders to join forces and strengthen one health approach.