Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) poses a growing global crisis that threatens progress in healthcare, agriculture, and sustainable development. In Africa, AMR-related infections impact varies, causing thousands of annual deaths and threatening public health. However, it is estimated that thousands of people die annually in Africa due to AMR-related infections, with 27.3 deaths per 100,000 attributed to AMR. To address this crisis, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) is implementing a strategy to support African Union Member States in mitigating the detrimental effects of drug-resistant pathogens. As part of these efforts, Africa CDC highlights the success of South Sudan in developing an effective AMR National Action Plan. This plan aims to guide national leaders, policymakers, and stakeholders to allocate resources, strengthen healthcare systems, implement regulations, and foster international cooperation in the fight against AMR.
AMR in South Sudan: A Silent Threat
South Sudan’s history of conflict and persistent health challenges have left it vulnerable to a silent threat, and the lack of a comprehensive national plan exacerbates the issue. As the youngest African country, it has a population of approximately 10.75 million and one of the region’s highest poverty rates (83.3%). The COVID-19 pandemic further strained resources, undermining the gains made over the years and making the country even more vulnerable to infectious diseases. The urgent need to address antimicrobial resistance within South Sudan cannot be overstated, as it is critical for public health, food security, and overall national sustainability.
The urgent need for an effective AMR National Action Plan
The urgency for an AMR National Action Plan arises from the escalating threat of drug-resistant infections, including multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis. Without a coordinated strategy, antimicrobial misuse persists, rendering infections harder to treat and driving the emergence of resistant pathogens. In April 2023, Africa CDC, in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO), supported a three-week-long activity in South Sudan in developing their costed National Action Plan for AMR and operational strategy in one health approach which will serve as a roadmap to tackle this growing issue. The one health approach emphasizes coordinating efforts across the health, agriculture, and environmental sectors. The plan is in its final stages for validation and will be launched soon.
The National Action Plan for Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) formulation acknowledges and recognizes the interplay of sectors like agriculture, highlighting the need for integrated interventions. By addressing the improper use of antimicrobials in animal husbandry and crop protection, the plan aims to enhance productivity and food security. With commitment from leaders and international partners, this plan promises to reduce drug-resistant infections significantly.
It is worth noting that many Member States allocate limited budgets to the healthcare sector, severely undermining efforts to control and combat infectious diseases. This highlights the need for comprehensive strategies, swift action, and sustainable practices among policymakers and donors.
Addressing antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in South Sudan necessitates collaborative action, including awareness raising among healthcare professionals, policymakers, and the public. National leaders must commit to the action plan and allocate resources through a multisectoral collaboration, strong disease surveillance, enhanced lab capacity, and proper prescribing practices in the country. This aligns with the broader need for international support and knowledge sharing, which are significant in prioritizing the fight against antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Acting now is vital against this urgent threat!
Dorothy Wambeti Njagi, Senior Communication Officer – Policy, Health Diplomacy & Communication: Africa CDC | Tel: +251 940 559 950 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
G. Nekerwon Gweh, Communication Officer – Policy, Health Diplomacy & Communication; Africa CDC | Tel: +251 945 502 310 | Email: GwehN@africa-union.org