Building Capacity to Contain Antimicrobial Resistance in Africa

The resistance of microorganisms to medicines used to treat infections caused by bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses – otherwise known as antimicrobial resistance (AMR) – has been on the rise for decades. More specifically, the resistance to tuberculosis (TB) medicines has become a severe problem leading to outbreaks of extremely drug-resistant TB or XDR-TB. Further compounding this problem is the lack of resources and local capacity that exists to address AMR issues throughout the health systems.

Management Sciences for Health (MSH), through the US Agency for International Development-funded Strengthening Pharmaceutical Systems (SPS) Program, worked in Zambia and Ethiopia and at the regional level capacity by partnering with the faith-based Ecumenical Pharmaceutical Network (EPN) based in Kenya, and the government-affiliated Regional Pharmaceutical Forum (RPF) based in Tanzania.

After conducting a rapid assessment to identify specific needs, SPS, and its USAID-funded predecessor Rational Pharmaceutical Management Plus, helped form country-level AMR working groups in Zambia and Ethiopia which built local advocacy, coalitions, and activities to support AMR containment at the national level.

At the regional level, Ecumenical Pharmaceutical Network and the Regional Pharmaceutical Forum assisted by expanding advocacy through meetings and developing documents on AMR containment.

In Zambia, national treatment guidelines were revised, a document inspection system was put into place to improve medicine quality assurance, the mass media was utilized to increase the public’s awareness about AMR, and the medical curriculum was modified to include AMR subjects.

The working group within Ethiopia conducted a national AMR baseline survey, developed intervention plans, and trained journalists on the topic of AMR to enhance the country’s mass media on the dangers of AMR outbreak.

Bringing local stakeholders together to form capacity-building programs assists countries in generating a functional and sustainable response to preserve antimicrobial effectiveness and contain antimicrobial resistance.

The SPS Program builds capacity within resource-limited countries to effectively manage pharmaceutical systems, successfully implement USAID priority services, and ultimately save lives and protect the public's health by improving access to and use of medicines of assured quality. SPS is dedicated to helping countries strengthen their existing pharmaceutical systems by customizing and implementing proven tools and approaches to achieve better medicines management and use.