The inaugural meeting of the Africa Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Surveillance Network (AMRSNET) that was held from 11-13 September 2023 marked a significant milestone in the collective efforts to safeguard the health and well-being of the people, animals, and ecosystems of the African continent. Hosted online by AU-IBAR, this historic event brought together key stakeholders committed to addressing the global challenge of AMR. Here are the mission highlights and key takeaways from this momentous gathering:
Opening Remarks by Dr. Huyam Salih
Dr. Huyam Salih, Director of AU-IBAR, officially opened the meeting by emphasizing the gravity of the AMR issue. She highlighted that AMR posed a significant development challenge with far-reaching impacts, affecting healthcare, agriculture, food security, and environmental sustainability. Dr. Salih underscored AU-IBAR's mandate to address AMR in animal production, animal health, and broader economic, trade, and marketing domains. She stressed the importance of collaboration, scientific rigor, a One-Health approach, and global cooperation in tackling AMR. Dr. Salih also announced AU-IBAR's plans to establish African training hubs for specialized programs in AMR surveillance and management.
Commitment from Africa CDC
Dr. Wande, speaking on behalf of Dr. Jean Kaseya, Director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), reaffirmed Africa CDC's commitment to collaborate with AU-IBAR in combatting AMR on the African continent. This partnership signifies a unified approach to address AMR comprehensively.
Acknowledgment from USDA-FAS
Kelly March, the Project Coordinator for CES-AMR Africa project at the United States Department of Agriculture-Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA-FAS) in Washington, USA, expressed gratitude to AU-IBAR for organizing the event and pledged continued cooperation on AMR activities between USDA-FAS and AU-IBAR.
Meeting Objectives and Moderation
Mr. John Oppong-Otoo, Food Safety Officer at AU-IBAR, elucidated the objectives and expected outcomes of the AMRSNET forum meeting. Dr. Joseph Magona, AMR Expert at AU-IBAR, guided the proceedings throughout the three days.
Engaging Discussions and Country Reports
The meeting featured a series of oral presentations, plenary discussions, and the discussion of the Terms of Reference for AMRSNET. Country reports provided insights into the status of AMR activities in several African nations, including Guinea Conakry, Madagascar, Somalia, Uganda, Egypt, Sao Tome & Principe, Nigeria, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Cote D’Ivoire, Burundi, Morocco, Cameroun, and Gabon, for the period 2022-2023. These reports covered topics such as the implementation of National Action Plans (NAPs), surveillance activities, AMR testing, training programs, and next steps.
Key Issues Discussed
Key issues addressed during the meeting included the status of NAPs in various countries, the One-Health approach, funding sources, stakeholder mapping, and a focus on specific value chains like poultry, cattle, piggery, and aquaculture. AMR pillars such as public awareness, infection prevention and control, and minimizing misuse of antimicrobials were also discussed, along with challenges like limited finances, capacity building, and integrating environmental health with animal and public health AMR activities.
The meeting concluded with a set of key recommendations, including:
• Promoting knowledge sharing among AU member states through regular AMRSNET online meetings.
• Advocating for equitable resource distribution for AMR activities.
• Promoting AMRSNET activities in the animal health sector.
• Using AMRSNET expertise to create the Africa AMR Surveillance Framework.
• Encouraging training using African institutions and promoting convergence between animal and public health AMR activities.
For AU Member States and Regional Economic Communities (RECs):
• Leveraging the experiences of sister countries.
• Strengthening regional cooperation and knowledge sharing.
• Sustaining capacity-building efforts.
• Allocating resources for AMR activities at the national level.
Participants and Next Steps
The meeting saw the active participation of AU member states, RECs, Africa CDC, USDA, and other key stakeholders. In terms of attendance, the online meeting achieved significant participation, with AU member states making presentations, submitting reports, and attending.
AU-IBAR announced plans for another online meeting, inviting Africa CDC and other AU institutions to conclude the Terms of Reference for AMRSNET. Regional online forums for ECOWAS, EAC, and UMA are also in the pipeline, enabling further information sharing and collaboration. AU-IBAR will engage AMR focal points for Animal Health/Production to draft the Africa AMR Surveillance Framework.
The Africa AMR Surveillance Network's inaugural meeting marked a momentous step towards addressing AMR in the African context. The commitment and collaboration demonstrated by participants from various sectors and countries promise a unified approach to combatting AMR and ensuring the health and well-being of Africa's people, animals, and ecosystems. The network's establishment and annual forum launch are significant milestones in the ongoing fight against AMR on the African continent.