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GARP Rendezvous with the 70th World Health Assembly

GARP Rendezvous with the 70th World Health Assembly

The Global Antibiotic Resistance Partnership (GARP) has been working for nearly a decade to establish local capacity to create antibiotic resistance policy in low- and middle-income countries. The Partnership received a major infusion of global energy and interest from the World Health Organization’s 2015 Global Action Plan, which called for all Member States to finalize national action plans for antimicrobial resistance by the May 2017 World Health Assembly.

Two years passed quickly and today, May 23, 2017, is the day on which Ministers from around the world are scheduled to talk about progress and present their national action plans at the 70th World Health Assembly in Geneva. GARP has played a key role in a number of countries getting the work completed.

The longest-standing member of the partnership, the GARP-Kenya Working Group, helped the Ministry of Health put the final touches on their action plan a few weeks ago. The Kenya national plan is among the most detailed that we’ve seen. It was supported heavily by the Ministry of Health, where GARP-coordinator Dr. Eveline Wesangula sits, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). GARP and the Ministry of Health have been partners in AMR control for many years, and the action plan is a welcome milestone for moving activities forward.

Equally impressive, the most recent partnership entry, the GARP-Nigeria Working Group, completed a thorough situation analysis and comprehensive national action plan in record time. GARP was established in Nigeria in February of this year, but the Ministry of Health had already taken the reins to begin developing these products before then. There, GARP took the lead on the private side of a fully public-private partnership, and provided coordination and expertise. A wide range of both public and private stakeholders are now poised for a new era of implementation, with GARP still playing a key role alongside government—a model for the post-WHA era.

Working groups in other countries new to the GARP network, including Bangladesh, Pakistan and Zimbabwe, have also supported national efforts to bring national action plans, based on the scientific evidence generated by local situation analyses, to this year’s assembly.

GARP groups that have been a part of the network for much longer have been important mentors to others throughout this process, serving as models of what can be achieved. South Africa and Vietnam were ahead of the curve – publishing national action plans for antibiotic resistance in 2014 and 2013, respectively.  Both are focusing on implementation and scale up now, including the strengthening of national surveillance systems.

Meanwhile, in Mozambique, Nepal, Tanzania and Uganda, the GARP working groups collaborated with Ministries, WHO and other stakeholders to support the action plan process, and all four successfully submitted ahead of the deadline. GARP members served as authors, commenters, and conveners throughout the year.

The next phase of GARP will look forward towards implementation. As the GARP-Pakistan co-chair, Dr. Ejaz Khan, put it:

The full commitment and participation of every Pakistani, in every sector, in every institution, from every discipline, in every province, every region and on every day is essential for controlling antibiotic resistance.

The same could be said in any region around the world. Today, CDDEP and all GARP partners celebrate an important milestone in the global effort to control AMR and look forward to maintaining the energy and commitment toward the next steps in implementing the programs and policies outlined in national action plans.

Image via FishInWater (CC BY-SA 2.0)