Ministry of Health Antimicrobial Resistance Focal Point Dr. Emmanuel Tanui, Aga Khan University Pathology Chair Dr. Shahin Sayed and Aga Khan University Hospital CEO Rashid Khalani during the launch of the current state of Antimicrobial Resistance which provides multidisciplinary interventions for medical practitioners to curb misuse of antibiotics in Kenya. Courtesy.

Self medication among Kenyans is a serious health problem which causes Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR). Experts estimates that in 2019 more than 8,500 deaths were attributable to AMR and 37,300 deaths associated with AMR.

Globally AMR is directly responsible for the death of 1.2 million people and contributes to another 4.95 million deaths worldwide.

What is Anti-Microbial Resistance

Picture this, a patient experiences discomfort or pain, let say chest pain. He goes to a pharmacist to buy certain antibiotics to treat the condition without diagnosis.

Every time he get chest pains, he buy antibiotics which relieves him. At some point he get used to the drug to the point where the drug no longer relieve his chest pain. That means the bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites no longer respond to antibiotics used. That means it has developed resistance to antibiotics or in other words the the medicines used becomes ineffective.

According to World Health Organization (WHO) AMR is a natural process that happens over time through genetic changes in pathogens as a result of misuse or overuse of antibiotics used to treat, prevent or control infections in humans.

Read: Experts warns Kenyans against Self-medicating

Aga Khan University Medical College, Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi in collaboration with the Ministry of Health organized The 2024 Microbiology Updates Conference to shed more light on dangers of antimicrobial resistance and well as bringing together national and international experts to promote and strengthen One Health governance for Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) surveillance in Kenya and the region.

Dr Emmanuel Tanui, National AMR Focal Point, Ministry of Health said the ministry has deployed multifaceted approach to deal with AMR including access, stewardship and research in low and middle income countries in order to tackle AMR effectively.

 Tanui: “The Ministry of Health, through the Antimicrobial Stewardship programs, has deployed a multifaceted approach to address AMR using three pillars which include access, stewardship, research, and development. Antimicrobial stewardship programs should strike a balance between the three pillars, especially in low- and middle-income Countries. The stewardship programs ensure access to antimicrobials is not compromised and is expanded where needed.”

Excess antimicrobial usage has been attributed to inadequate disease prevention, high infectious disease burden, availability of substandard drugs, inadequately trained and insufficient health personnel, and poor access to diagnostics and laboratory services to guide treatment.

“The goals of antimicrobial stewardship programs at the Ministry of Health, include, improving safety, quality of care and outcomes, reducing treatment costs, reducing emergence and spread of AMR and optimizing antibiotics lifespan,” added Dr Tanui.

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Through the Fleming Fund Country Grant, funded by the UK Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), the Microbiology department at the Ministry of Health targets the implementation of the national AMR surveillance strategy in Kenya.

In addition, the conference aims to enhance laboratory performance, data quality, bio-safety, and bio-security while promoting clinical engagement with microbiology services. The goal is to develop a quality-assured surveillance system aligned with the World Health Organization’s Global AMR Surveillance System (GLASS).