AFRICA – New data published on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) from 14 sub-Saharan countries highlights that lack of laboratory capacity and erratic use of available antibiotics will hamper continental efforts to address the emergence and spread of AMR.

According to a statement by the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the study provides stark insights on the under-reported depth of the AMR crisis across Africa and lays out urgent policy recommendations to address the emergency.

The study finds that only five out of the 15 antibiotic-resistant pathogens designated by the World Health Organization (WHO) as priority pathogens are being consistently tested and that all five demonstrated high resistance.

According to the most recent estimates, Africa was found to have the highest mortality rate from AMR infections in the world, with 24 deaths per 100,000 attributable to AMR.

Researchers found that most laboratories across Africa are not ready for AMR testing while only 1.3% of the 50,000 medical laboratories forming the laboratory networks of the 14 participating countries conduct bacteriology testing.

The multi-year, multi-country study was carried out by the Mapping Antimicrobial Resistance and Antimicrobial Use Partnership (MAAP), a consortium spearheaded by the African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM).

Besides Africa CDC, other ASLM partners include the One Health Trust, the West African Health Organization (WAHO), the East, Central and Southern Africa Health Community (ECSA-HC), Innovative Support to Emergencies, Diseases and Disasters and IQVIA.

The agency observed that the efforts by MAAP are the first of their kind to systematically collect, process and evaluate large quantities of antimicrobial resistance and antimicrobial consumption (AMC) data in Africa.

MAAP reviewed 819,584 AMR records spanning from 2016 to 2019, from 205 laboratories across Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Eswatini, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Gabon and Cameroon.

The Africa CDC further highlighted that MAAP reviewed data from 327 hospital and community pharmacies and 16 national-level AMC datasets.

Based on the findings, MAAP is calling for a drastic increase in the quality and quantity of AMR and AMC data being collected across the continent, along with revised AMR control strategies and research priorities.

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