Misuse of Antibiotics a risk to health, food and development.

Nairobi November 18, 2019 – The Government has warned that misuse and overuse of antibiotics is making common infections increasingly harder to treat and calls for an urgent need to strengthen prescription and use of antibiotics and surveillance systems to encourage prudent use of antibiotics.

According to the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Sicily Kariuki, there is low public awareness on dangers of misuse of antibiotics and poor prescription and irrational use among the public is a danger to AMR resistance.

“From operational research conducted on public awareness early this year, levels of awareness on the dangers of AMR are low with 73 percent of members of the public interviewed indicating they have never heard of the AMR awareness week,” the CS said adding that “71 percent of those interviewed indicated that they trusted doctors who prescribed antibiotics and would move to an alternative if one does not prescribe an antibiotic.”

The  CS who was represented by Dr. Simon Kibias the Head of Directorate of Health Standards Quality and Regulations  during the World Antibiotics Awareness Week (WAAW) 2019, said the Government has taken several measures across various sectors to intensify action against AMR, through implementation of the National Policy and Action Plan on antimicrobial resistance and accompanying strategies on Surveillance, Communication, Infection Prevention and Control and Antimicrobial Stewardship.

She noted that the misuse of antibiotics has negative effects on food and environmental safety and lauded the choose of Kenya as the first host of the Regional World Antibiotic Awareness Week.

“This is a privilege and a sign of recognition of the country’s commitment to the fight against antimicrobial resistance, she added.

The CS revealed that the Ministry of Health in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries & Irrigation has adopted a one health approach and joined forces with the regional and international efforts to reduce antimicrobial resistance and ensure the availability of effective antibiotics now and in the future.

Through the plan, MOH has recently revised the Kenya Essential Medicines List to include the Access, Watch and Reserve categorization of antibiotics and is in the process of reviewing the Clinical Guidelines to ensure rational use of these precious medicines, she said.


According to Dr. Wesangula, Kenya needs a robust data collection system that can reveal trends in anti-biotic (mis)use in humans and non-humans. “We need data on awareness level, surveillance and antibiotics use,” she said adding that “Data will not only help in providing evidence-based intervention to implement the AMR policy but will also help in building local and national capacity to address the problem as it will not only show the severity of AMR (mis)use and transmission but also identify sources of infections.”

Dr Rudi Eggers, the WHO Representative to Kenya said AMR endangers health security and by threatening to reverse medical advances, reduces the ability to treat diseases such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, gonorrhea and cancer.

“This silent pandemic is already leading to 700 000 deaths worldwide each year  and if  left unchecked, AMR could cause up to 10 million deaths annually by 2050. People living in developing countries and those in fragile contexts, affected by conflict and violence, are particularly vulnerable,” he noted

Dr. Eggers  explained that WHO and partners are working with countries to address challenges of AMR by implementing “One Health” national action plans that bring s together different sectors and disciplines to build stronger regulatory systems, to improve surveillance, and to develop policies to promote appropriate antibiotic use among humans, and in livestock and agriculture.

Dr. Allan Azegele, AMR focal point person at the Directorate of Veterinary Services in Kenya called for behavioral changes in the use of antibiotics through the change of basic animal husbandry practices.

He noted that Kenya has harnessed its resources and technical expertise to help build surveillance capacity through funding from the United Kingdom government. This will enable greater data sharing that will reduce the spread of resistant bugs within its one health approach.

Kenya is piloting its national AMR joint surveillance both in agriculture and human use in four sites that will be used to identify the prevalence and effects of eight antibiotic-resistant organisms in Kenya.

Kenya is the host, for the first time in Africa to hold the regional tripartite celebrations comprising the World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Organization for Animal Health alongside the African Union Commission represented by Africa CDC and AU AIBAR.

This year, the theme is “handle antibiotics with care”, emphasizes the need to use antibiotics safely and responsibly across sectors, from agricultural and livestock production to public health, and to mitigate the impacts of antimicrobial pollution contaminating water and soil.