Africa Union outlines guidelines to help combat antimicrobial resistance

AFRICA – An interdisciplinary panel of infectious disease clinicians and public health experts led by the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy (CDDEP) and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have released a first edition of the African Antibiotic Treatment Guidelines for Common Bacterial Infections and Syndromes.

Africa Union Member States and public health stakeholders have identified the lack of locally developed clinical treatment guidelines that define when to treat infections and what appropriate antimicrobial agents to use as a major barrier to providing quality healthcare and mitigating the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

Except for selected diseases, such as HIV, TB, and malaria, healthcare providers in Africa have traditionally had to use their individual judgment or rely on guidelines developed outside of Africa to guide the treatment of infectious diseases.

The African Antibiotic Treatment Guidelines for Common Bacterial Infections and Syndromes aim to fills this gap by providing healthcare workers across the African continent with expert recommendations for antimicrobial selection, dosage, and duration of treatment for common bacterial infections and syndromes among pediatric and adult patient populations.

The guidelines also aim to promote the appropriate use of antimicrobials to mitigate the emergence and spread of antimicrobial-resistant pathogens.

Antimicrobial resistance occurs when medicines no longer work as they should against communicable diseases, because microbes adapt and protect themselves, leading to drug-resistant infections.

In the WHO African Region, more than half of all deaths are caused by communicable diseases that are treated by antimicrobials. The threat of resistance therefore puts at risk decades of progress in controlling malaria, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and sexually transmitted infections, among others.

WHO has declared that AMR is one of the top 10 global public health threats facing humanity.

Misuse and overuse of antimicrobials are the main drivers in the development of drug-resistant pathogens.

Lack of clean water and sanitation and inadequate infection prevention and control promotes the spread of microbes, some of which can be resistant to antimicrobial treatment.

The cost of AMR to the economy is significant. In addition to death and disability, prolonged illness results in longer hospital stays, the need for more expensive medicines and financial challenges for those impacted.

Hence, the guidelines have been based on a review of existing national standard or clinical treatment guidelines from AU member states and international organizations, available AMR data, and clinical expertise from physicians, pharmacists, and other healthcare workers involved in the treatment of infectious diseases across more than 15 AU member states.

The treatment recommendations are intended to complement existing national and international clinical treatment guidelines, where available, and to provide a template for local adaption in their absence. The guidelines are intended for use by clinicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other personnel involved in the treatment of infectious diseases or dispensing of antimicrobials in Africa.

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