Liberia Against Antimicrobial Resistance, launch National Action Plan

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The Global Action Plan on AMR (GAPAMR), voted by the World Health Assembly in 2015, recommended establishing national plans of action a difficult undertaking on the African continent, the Ministry of Health through the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) and its partners including the World Health Organization (WHO) have validated the National Action Plan on prevention and containment of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in Liberia.

Antimicrobial resistance occurs when a microorganism (bacteria, virus, fungus or parasite) becomes resistant to an antimicrobial drug against which it was previously sensitive.

This antimicrobial resistance (AMR) concerns a wide range of infectious agents, and many sectors (human and animal health, agro-industry, livestock and the environment. It is a growing threat to public health and no country is spared. It is particularly alarming to note the rapid worldwide spread of multi-resistant bacteria causing common infections that are not sensitive to the usual antibiotic treatments, and that of infections (especially hospital-acquired infections) resistant to last-resort antibiotic treatments. The problem currently arises in terms of sustainable development: it goes far beyond the framework of human health and is of concern to the entire world.

Speaking at the validation workshop of the AMR National Action Plan on Tuesday, June 26 at a local hotel in Paynesville, the One Health National Coordinator, Sonpon Sieh revealed that for the past years, AMR has been a growing threat to effective treatment.“AMR results in reduced efficacy of antibacterial, antiparasitic, antiviral and antifungal drugs, making the treatment of patients difficult, costly or even impossible. The impact is felt particularly by vulnerable patients, as it can result in prolonged illness and increased mortality,” he said.

He stated that there is an urgent need to develop a statement on amending the Public Health Law to include the ‘Keep Antimicrobial Effective’ legislation.

He added that the developed protocol for the implementation at pilot site focuses on clinical infection at the Redemption Hospital in New Kru Town.

The AMR Focal Person, Rev. Tijli Tarty Tyee, Sr. said the goal of the plan is to prevent and control the spread of resistant organisms while ensuring continuity of successful treatment and prevention of infectious diseases with effective, safe and quality-assured antimicrobials.

Giving a brief background, Rev. Tyee, Sr. explained that at the 68th World Health Assembly in 2015, member states adopted a resolution to implement the Global Action Plan (GAP) to respond to the serious public health issue of AMR.

For her part, Dr. April Baller, Emergency Preparedness and Response Office of WHO-Liberia office thanked NPHIL and partners for the support towards the process and expressed hope that the five-year plan will effectively be implemented successfully.

The event brought together representatives of government and non-governmental agencies including the Ministry of Agriculture, NPHIL, the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Dr. Ralph W. Jetoh, Deputy Director, Division of Infectious Disease and Epidemiology of NPHIL said due to the significance of the document, NPHIL and its partners would ensure its full implementation the legislation of the AMR.

CDC Country Director, Dr. Desmond E. Williams described the validation of the plan as an important milestone in the development of global health security and not just from Liberia.

He added that in the wake of limited anti-microbial drugs, there is a need for Liberia to join the rest of the world in developing a plan “to overcome this significant potential time bomb that we have in front of all of us.

”The fight against AMR has become a global necessity calling on all countries. The countries of sub-Saharan Africa generally have a significant backwardness or even an absence of a policy of care.

“Liberia currently has a certain lead, compared to the vast majority of African countries, although the road ahead is still long. It can serve as a valid model and enable rapid progress to be made at the regional level, provided that its acquisitions are operational and aligned with the new context of One Health policy endorsement, as well as the many new recommendations and technical tools developed by WHO following lessons learned from the recent major Ebola epidemic” he said.

– Writes Nwelt A. Mathies