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Scientists support African drug resistance fight

Edinburgh researchers have contributed to a Zimbabwean initiative to tackle the threat of growing resistance to antibiotics.

The move follows a situational analysis in the country showing that antimicrobial resistance – the ability of infections to develop resistance to commonly used drugs –will grow if left unchecked.

Drug resistance is threatening the effective prevention and treatment of a growing number of infections caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi around the world.

In Zimbabwe, this is impacting on human health and the productivity of livestock.

Nationwide action

A newly launched national action plan will seek to slow the growth of resistance, and ensure that existing antimicrobial drugs continue to be effective.

The Zimbabwean Ministries of Health and Child Welfare, Agriculture Mechanisation and Irrigation Development, and Environment Water and Climate have taken an integrated approach.

They hope this will improve awareness and understanding of the drivers of antimicrobial resistance.

Strategic plan

Strategies will be implemented to mitigate the development of antimicrobial resistance, including effective surveillance.

Experts in the country will aim to optimise the use of antimicrobial medicines, such as antibiotics, in human and animal health.

They will also develop plans for sustainable investment including in new medicines, diagnostic tools and vaccines.

Supporting measures

Professor Francisca Mutapi in the School of Biological Sciences was a member of the core national AMR action plan writing team.

Professor Mutapi welcomed the inclusion of complimentary interventions, including effective sanitation, hygiene and infection prevention measures, as a strength of the Zimbabwe AMR action plan.  

The spread of disease is becoming difficult to control as treatments become ineffective. Action is needed to safeguard the effectiveness of existing drugs and to put in place more ways to limit infection spread.

Professor Francisca MutapiSchool of Biological Sciences