Zimbabwe incorporates One Health approach in strengthening antimicrobial resistance surveillance

ZIMBABWE – Government of Zimbabwe has adopted a ‘One Health’ approach as a guiding principle for working together to address Antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

The Zimbabwe AMR Country grant consortium and the Government have embarked on a one-week field mission to measure, learn and improve on progress of performance of human and animal health laboratories, which were commissioned in May 2022, in AMR surveillance while developing a sustainable One Health roadmap.

The Government was represented by the Directorate of Laboratory Services in the Ministry of Health and Child Care and the Directorate of Veterinary Services.

Data generated from surveillance will also be used to influence national policies related to AMR and contribute to global platforms collating AMR data.

“Sustainability is key to the success of this project. This mission has given us the opportunity to appreciate progress made since rehabilitating and equipping these laboratories in AMR surveillance and diagnostic capacity in general,” said Patrice Talla, FAO Subregional Coordinator for Southern Africa and FAO Representative to Zimbabwe.

“We have taken note of the challenges while mapping how to implement sustainable AMR surveillance strategies. The laboratories constitute a nucleus of One Health approaches that facilitate interlinkages in AMR surveillance between public, animal and environmental health.”

Zimbabwe recognises that the control of AMR requires close cooperation among the sectors involved in food, agriculture, environment and health.

The Zimbabwe AMR Country grant consortium consisting of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) as lead grantee, World Health Organization (WHO) and the Biomedical Research and Training Institute (BRTI) partnered to rehabilitate 14 human and animal health laboratories.

The rehabilitation is under the project entitled, “Addressing gaps in surveillance of antimicrobial resistance in Zimbabwe” funded by the UK Government’s Fleming Fund to the tune of £4 million (US$4.82m).

Rehabilitation of laboratories

The process of rehabilitating the laboratories started in 2019 where the country nominated 14 priority laboratories to participate on the pilot national AMR surveillance using an integrated One Health approach.

This was followed by capacity assessments which guided the formulation of technical specifications on the scope of works for the infrastructure rehabilitation, equipment and reagent procurements. In 2017, Zimbabwe developed a five-year National One Health AMR Action Plan aligned to the global AMR Action Plan.

The mission comes at an opportune time when the country has embarked on developing the second generation of the country AMR national action plan.

The formulation of the second generation of the AMR National Action Plan is guided by various assessments made including the FAO Progressive Management Pathway evaluation conducted in April 2022.

“The Government of Zimbabwe appreciates the role this project is playing towards addressing gaps in AMR surveillance in the country. In terms of sustainability, the rehabilitated laboratories have been incorporated in the Ministry of Health’s 2023 – 2027 strategic plan,” said Tanaka Sakubani, Deputy Director in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Directorate of Laboratory Services.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a natural phenomenon in which microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites adapt to antimicrobial agents and cause medications to be ineffective for its curing purpose.

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