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By, Levina Kulembeka

A global action plan to tackle the growing problem of resistance to antimicrobial medicines was endorsed during the Sixty-Eighth World Health Assembly in May 2015. One of the key objectives of the plan was to improve awareness and understanding of antimicrobial resistance through effective communication, education and training.

World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) aims to increase awareness of global antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and to encourage best practices among the public, health workers and policy makers to avoid the further emergence and spread of drug-resistant infections.

WAAW’s origin is linked to European Antibiotic Awareness Day, a European Union initiative that started in 2008. World Antibiotic Awareness Week began in 2015. As resistance grows to a wider range of drugs and across human and animal health, Tripartite Organizations (the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and WHO) the scope of WAAW was expanded in 2020, changing the focus of the awareness week from “antibiotics” to the more encompassing and inclusive term “antimicrobials”. The Tripartite Executive Committee also decided to fix WAAW dates to 18–24 November every year starting from 2020.

For 2021, the WAAW theme announced by the World Health Organization (WHO) is: “Spread awareness, stop resistance” with the slogan remaining as “Antimicrobials: Handle with care.”

The WHO which leads the global campaign for human health urges all countries across the world to take part in the week. AMR knows no borders, and this is an annual opportunity to join the global community in advocating for prudent antimicrobial use. Followingthis, Kilimanjaro, Christian Medical College student’s organization saw the necessity to raise awareness on antimicrobial resistance.

 On 24th November, 2021, the conference was held at Uhuru conference hall with honorable distinguished guests Credianus Mgimba Regional medical officer Kilimanjaro as guest of honor, Dr. Elichilia Shao KCMUCo provost representative, Anza Amen Lema Dean  of students, Happyness Jeremiah Representative of Director Kilimanjaro Clinical research institute, Yusuf Nzumbi President TUMASO and others/ the protocol has been adhered. Also, without forgetting our beloved audience from different course and nearby university (Stephen Moshi Memorial University SMMUCo) who attended and participated fully.

The conference was aimed to address on the etiology, current situation of AMR , the actions that have been taken from the global to local level to tackle AMR( specifically antimicrobial stewardship program) and the role each individual can play to prevent antimicrobial resistance. Briefly, antimicrobial resistance occurs naturally over time, it happen  when bacteria, viruses, fungi, other microbes protect themselves through genetic changes from the effects of antimicrobial drugs that are designed to destroy them. Antimicrobial resistant organisms are found in people, animals, food, plants and the environment (in water, soil and air). They can spread from person to person or between people and animals, including from food of animal origin. The main drivers of antimicrobial resistance includes the misuse and overuse of antimicrobials; lack of access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) for both humans and animals; poor infection and disease prevention and control in health-care facilities and farms; poor access to quality, affordable medicines, vaccines and diagnostics and the lack of awareness and knowledge.

Furthermore, the antimicrobial stewardship was discussed. This is a systematic approach in optimizing the proper use of drugs. It literally means protecting the few antibiotics we have. It works hand in hand with infection control and involves the effort to educate and persuade prescribers off antimicrobials to follow the appropriate prescription in order to combat antibiotic overuse and thus eliminate anti-microbial resistance. Currently there is an antimicrobial stewardship committee in the KCMC hospital aiming at spreading awareness on the proper use of antimicrobials Thus, I call upon students to actively join to spread awareness and gain knowledge.

The conference was very interactive with a lot of questions and study cases also including well prepared presentation by various speakers. Thanks to the Ministry of Academic affairs together with the organizing committee for preparing the event. Hoping that next year things will be even more spontaneous and educative.

In a nutshell, always prevention is better than cure, thus in order to eliminate anti-microbial resistance we have to take measures and spread awareness especially as the medical students of KCMUCo. This can be done by actively participating in observing proper hygiene and educating ourselves more by attending the conference on AMR each year.

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