AMR team hosts media café to commemorate 2021 World antimicrobial awareness week
A media café to build the capacity of science journalists in Uganda and facilitate critical discussion and reporting on antimicrobial resistance using a One Health approach was held in November 2021. The café, organized by Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries (MAAIF), in partnership with the BUILD Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) component, was one of the activities organized to commemorate the 2021 World Antimicrobial Awareness week (WAAW) and was attended by over 20 journalists. Other participants included representatives from the Ministry of Health; and that of Water and environment, both of which are members of the One Health National platform (OHNP). The BUILD AMR component aims to assess AMR risks and improve poultry farming and reduce reliance on antimicrobials on farms in Wakiso and Soroti districts in Uganda.
Anna Rose Ademun, Commissioner Animal health at MAAIF who officiated at the café noted the importance of antimicrobials in fighting infections in both humans and animals. “Antimicrobials have been used for decades to effectively treat infections and promoting quality of life. [...] Antibiotics are good, misuse is bad”, she emphasized. She reiterated the role of the media is informing and educating the public and called on them to partner with the OHNP to ensure that the public receives accurate information on Antimicrobials.
Partners on the national One Health platform and some journalists at the WAAW 2021 media cafe in Kampala, Uganda
Presentations from the OHNP partners highlighted a growing trend of AMR in the country in humans, animals and the environment. This was mainly attributed to misuse of drugs, lack of accurate information, misconceptions and inadequate levels of regulation. It was reported that to a large extent, antimicrobial misuse in livestock is premised on the misconception that they promote growth, if used in animal feeds. Dr. Ademun informed the meeting that the government of Uganda has since banned the importation of antibiotics as feed additives for livestock to address AMR. There is however need to enhance enforcement within the animal-feeds sector to ensure compliance.
Other speakers at the café included researchers from the International Livestock Research Institute as well as partners from the National One Health platform.
Researchers reported that an ongoing survey in Wakiso district, in central Uganda, to ascertain the drivers of antimicrobial use and levels of AMR on farms has shown high levels of antimicrobial use and misuse. Misuse is mainly through incorrect treatment- without prescription and often for long periods; for disease prevention, often to compensate for poor animal husbandry practices and for growth promotion. Researchers expressed concerned that AMR can be spread to humans via food and environment, and this is worsened by the easy access to antimicrobials by farmers.
On AMR in the environment, participants noted with concern the rising levels of fish cage farming in the country mainly for export, and the corresponding high use of antimicrobials to promote health and growth. Participants were particularly concerned that the burden of AM abuse in this case was borne by the local communities, through contamination of water bodies. Of equal concern was the exposure to AMR by the public due to poor sewerage and medical waste management.
Considering the cross-cutting nature of AMR, participants emphasized the importance of a One Health approach in sharing information and creating awareness. Continuous engagement with the media and involvement of all OHNP stakeholders was identified as one of the strategies to promote awareness creation among the public. Other strategies include the production of information, education and communication materials on AMR.
In line with this, the BUILD project together with VSFG-Uganda have produced an educational video on Antimicrobial resistance; knowledge, attitudes and practices in society.
Links to some media café outputs;