President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo yesterday launched the national policy and action plan documents on anti-microbial resistance (AMR), with a call on stakeholders to step up action towards ensuring that the looming threat posed by the situation was effectively addressed.
He recounted that while anti-microbials had been helpful in tackling infections and safeguarding the health of humans, livestock and aquaculture, it had become evident that the gains made over the period had been confronted by the increasing spate of AMR, with the fear of those gains being eroded.
Delivering an address prior to the launch of the two documents in Accra, the President, who also doubles as the co-Chair of the UN Eminent Persons on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), said AMR posed a major threat to SDG 3, which required healthy life and well-being.
Present at the launch of the documents were the stakeholder ministers who spearheaded the development of the national action plan.
They were the ministers of Health, Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu; Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto; Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, and Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Mrs Elizabeth Afoley Quaye.
Also present was the Minister of Defence, Mr Dominic Nitiwul; the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Anthony Nsiah Asare, and other government officials.
Danger to human life
Explaining the situation further, President Akufo-Addo said what AMR meant was that common infections that were treated with anti-microbials would become resistant to the common drugs used and, therefore, incurable, posing a danger to human life.
Not only would the health status of people be affected, he pointed out, adding that food production, livestock farming and aquaculture would be equally affected.
He, therefore, said it was critically important for active steps to be taken towards confronting that threat and nipping it in the bud.
Ghana ready for action
For him, the launch of the two documents was indicative of the fact that the country was ready to take appropriate action to contain the situation and ensure that Ghana was not a loser to AMR.
He said Ghana was well-positioned to join in the global action to fight AMR and stressed the need for the responsible use of anti-microbials.
President Akufo-Addo called on all Ghanaians to join the fight and urged industry and the inter-ministerial teams to take up the challenge of ensuring that the country did not lose out on SDG 3 by the end of the stipulated attainment period.
Mr Agyeman-Manu described the launch of the action plan and policy documents as timely, especially in the wake of the global health agenda to promote the SDGs on health, food security, food safety and improved health care.
However, he said the country would require GH¢21 million to implement the action plan over the next five years.
He gave an assurance that the stakeholder ministries would collaborate effectively to ensure that the policy was implemented well, stressing: “If we fail to take the right action, our efforts to achieve the SDGs will be useless.”
Mr Agyeman-Manu called on President Akufo-Addo to use his influence to garner support from other African governments to ensure that anti-microbial use and resistance policies were coordinated across the continent.
Joining in that call, the Country Representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Owen Laws Kaluwa, called for the coordination of implementation strategies and activities to ensure that the policy made the desired impact.
He said that required strengthening inter-ministerial collaboration at the country level, as well as partnerships with research institutions, academia, civil society organisations and other stakeholder institutions.
The National Ambassador for Tuberculosis, Nana Prah Agyensen, observed that the effective implementation of the AMR policy required strong leaderships and an all-hands-on-deck approach to accomplish.
He called for the policy to be implemented to the letter, saying: “Antibiotics should not be bought the same way we buy banana in the market.”
About the policy
The policy seeks to improve and sustain the health of humans and animals and also enhance food security by ensuring the responsible use of and access to safe and affordable anti-microbials.
It further seeks to reduce the emergence of resistant microbes and prevent the spread of resistant infections.
Among other things, the document highlights specific regulatory interventions to deal with manufacturing, supply chain and increased investment in new medicines, diagnostic tools and vaccines.