Harare, Zimbabwe – The first global assessment of the burden of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) revealed that nearly 5 million deaths in 2019 were associated with drug-resistant infections. A major driver of AMR is the overuse and misuse of antimicrobials in the human and animal health sectors. Zimbabwe, as other countries of the world, has not escaped the negative impact that multidrug-resistant organisms have on health and well-being, food security, environment and economic growth. In addition, the proliferation of counterfeit and unregistered medicines on the informal market coupled with irrational prescribing in the private sector are fuelling the spread of AMR in the country. As an initial step to address the problem, the Government of Zimbabwe (GoZ) defined the several actions in its National Development Strategy 2021-2025, such as improving access to essential medicines, strengthening the regulation and reinforcing the rationale use of medicines.
The GoZ also included key activities in its National Health Strategy (NHS 2021-2025) that would ensure uninterrupted access to high-quality medicines, such as strengthening the capacities of Hospital Medicines and Therapeutic Committees, enforcing rationale prescribing, dispensing and use of pharmaceutical commodities at all levels. Strengthening antimicrobial stewardship programmes and regular reviews of standard treatment guidelines were also included.
“As the GoZ, we take AMR seriously and it has the highest level of commitment and support from the political leaders. We have done this through supporting the three different ministries (Ministry of Health and Child Care, Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development and Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry) that are involved,” noted Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC), Chief Director of Public Health (MoHCC AMR Focal Person), Dr M Dobbie.
In support of the efforts by the GoZ, the United Nations Country Team (UNCT) has made tackling the rise of AMR a priority in Zimbabwe’s United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (ZUNSDCF) 2021-2026. The move is a game-changer as it effectively links AMR to the National Development Strategy thus ensuring strong governance, investment and accountability which is important for the long-term sustainability of the AMR programme. This is a significant move forward and builds on the current efforts of the Government to strengthen AMR programming as evidenced by the country’s One Health AMR National Action Plan (NAP 2017-2022) which was launched in September 2017.
Initial implementation of the NAP was delayed due to limited funding and human resource constraints. However, the Tripartite organizations – the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) – in conjunction with the GoZ embarked on resource mobilization efforts that have generated substantial catalytic funds from the AMR Multi-Partner Trust Fund (funded by the Governments of the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom, using UK aid funding through the Fleming Fund). These funds have reinvigorated the implementation of planned activities under the NAP and have signalled a more coordinated approach towards dealing with AMR. Under the aegis of the ZUNSDCSF, the UNCT, in partnership with the GoZ and other stakeholders, will provide strong support towards a coordinated and multi-sectoral ‘One Health’ approach to reduce the burden of AMR in Zimbabwe.
“The strong leadership and commitment of the GoZ to combat the public health and economic threat posed by antimicrobial resistance is already receiving strong support from the Tripartite organizations. The commitment of other members of the UN Country Team in Zimbabwe, including the UN Environment Programme, as expressed in the 2022-2026 United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework, will galvanize additional support in this regard” said Dr Alex Gasasira, WHO Representative, Zimbabwe.
Over the next five years the GoZ and the UNCT will collaborate closely to ensure that AMR is addressed as part of the critical national priorities for economic development, climate change, and overall health and wellbeing. This represents a major step forward in both the scale and the significance with which AMR is being addressed in Zimbabwe.
 Sweileh WM: Global research publications on irrational use of antimicrobials: call for more research to contain antimicrobial resistance. Globalization and Health 2021, 17(1):94.Featured