Many countries, including Namibia, face challenges in strengthening antimicrobial resistance (AMR) surveillance capabilities and laboratory infrastructure, which hampers data collection for informed decisions.
Thus, the World Health Organisation's (WHO) training on global antimicrobial resistance and the use of surveillance systems in Windhoek aims to strengthen and enhance national surveillance systems.
Antimicrobial resistance occurs when germs like bacteria and fungi defeat the drugs designed to kill them. AMR is one of the top ten global public health threats, causing more deaths than HIV/AIDS or malaria globally.
In 2019, 4.95 million deaths were associated with drug-resistant bacterial infections, with the most significant burden in the sub-Saharan Africa Region, where 1.7 million people died.
The WHO-NET training will, among other things, strengthen the capacity of countries to develop national AMR surveillance protocols and use data for decision-making.
"This training is very timely. It is expected that our capacity will be strengthened by preparing national AMR data for local use and submission to GLASS. Configuring WHONET for surveillance and data submission is acquired or improved," explained Dr. Mary Brantuo, the officer in charge of WHO in Namibia.
AMR data remains sketchy, especially in Africa, and is not available in more than 40% of the countries, posing a challenge to effectively implementing AMR surveillance.
"This data is not merely numbers and statistics; it is a vital lifeline that guides our actions, shapes our policies, and ultimately safeguards the health of our populations. The importance of AMR surveillance and data cannot be overstated. It is the foundation upon which our strategies for tackling AMR are built. By collecting and analysing data, we gain valuable insights into the evolution of resistance patterns, enabling us to respond proactively and practically," said Ben Nangombe, Health Ministry Executive Director.