By Frank Amponsah
The President of the Republic, H.E Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has launched two new policies, the National Policy on Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and its Action Plans and Government’s 7-year Co-ordinated Programme of Economic and Social Development Policies at separate ceremonies in Accra yesterday.
Launching the AMR Action Plan and National Policy, the President indicated that ARM is threatening to derail the significant advancement made in the eradication of life threatening health situations.
He averred that standard treatments are becoming ineffective in both humans and animals since infections persist and may spread amongst people and animals.
Nana Akufo-Addo also enumerated that AMR are potentially untreatable infections, expensive and more challenging treatment alternatives, excessive burden on social health interventions like health insurance, transfer of resistant bacteria to humans, huge loses in animal production, high cost of controlling infections on farms, hence the need for governments, industry and players in the health sector to step up efforts in ensuring a safer generation.
He indicated that lack of effective antibiotics is a serious threat to lives and that the action plan and policy document will be implemented and pursued with all seriousness.
According to him the attainment of the SDGs especially SDG 3 is under threat and urged all to be involved in fighting AMR.
AMR affects every country including Ghana and every person who would require treatment for infections. This makes the management of AMR a serious issue for all.
President Akufo-Addo noted that even though antimicrobials have been used to prevent and treat microbial infections, over the course of several years, over the last decade, however, anti-microbial resistance is threatening to derail the significant achievements made in the field of infectious disease therapy, animal and crop health, the environment, and our fisheries and aqua culture.
As co-Chair of the United Nations Advocates Group of Eminent Persons on the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, the President stressed that the phenomenon of anti-microbial resistance represents a grave threat to the realization of SDG 3, which demands that countries ensure healthy lives and the promotion of wellbeing for all at all ages.
This, according to the President, warrants that all efforts are geared towards overcoming the resistance.
What this means, the President explained, is that simple treatment for infections, such as pneumonia or gonorrhea, can no longer be possible because of anti-microbial resistance, adding that the world is already grappling with Drug Resistant Tuberculosis, which is threatening to undo decades of progress made in the treatment and control of tuberculosis.
The President stated that, “Our food supply chain is also not being spared, because antibiotic resistance is a major challenge to animal husbandry, fisheries and aquaculture sectors, as Ghanaian research has shown. Our environment is also at risk, because of the effluents from industry that keep polluting the soil and water bodies.
He continued, “It is, thus, important that we recognize this, and the current steps we have taken to deal with the Resistance phenomenon, steps, which I am confident, are in the right direction.”
It is for this reason, and in consonance with the stance taken by the World Health Assembly which urges all Member States to develop and put in place national action plans on anti-microbial resistance, which must be aligned with the objectives of the global action plan launched in May 2015, that President Akufo-Addo has launched a national action plan together with a national policy document.
The launch of the policy and national action plan and national policy document, according to President Akufo-Addo, is a clear indication that the Ghana is ready to implement their contents.
“I am, therefore, tasking the SDG Secretariat to ensure their smooth and hitch-free implementation. Additionally, the Minister for Health and the Attorney General are to take the necessary steps to move some of the policy issues into legislation, to ensure our public health safety. Key among these are policies on the environment and waste, rational use of medicines, crop and animal production, and residues,” he said.
The government, through the Ministries responsible for health, agriculture, fisheries and environment, has made efforts to mitigate the impact of AMR on all persons living in Ghana. The MOH embraced the ReAct (Action against antibiotic resistance) project to support national efforts at combating AMR.
President Akufo-Addo was fortified in his belief that Ghana is well-positioned to join in the global effort to fight anti-microbial resistance.
“It is my hope that the committed implementation of the interventions outlined in these documents will guarantee the efficacy, as well as ensure the responsible use of antimicrobials, and, thereby, preserve them for future generations. We are mobilizing domestic resources to deal with this menace, a mobilisation which is an integral part of our vision of creating a Ghana Beyond Aid,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo urged all Ghanaians to join hands in the implementation of the anti-microbial resistance plan, stressing that “together, we can effect change in the handling and use of antimicrobials.”
He challenged industry also to come out with new innovations and formulations of antimicrobials, vaccines and diagnostics, as the country seeks to combat the resistance phenomenon.
“I also charge the Inter-Ministerial Committee On The Implementation of the SDGs to incorporate the various indicators for anti-microbial resistance into their work stream, and ensure that the achievement of SDG 3, by the target date of 2030, is realized,” he said.
In another development, the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, launched Government’s 7-year Co-ordinated Programme of Economic and Social Development Policies, and stated that the vision of his government is to create an optimistic, self-confident and prosperous nation, through the creative exploitation of the country’s human and natural resources, and operating within a democratic, open and fair society, in which mutual trust and economic opportunities exist for all.
The vision for the policy he said, is informed by the need to establish a strong economy, that creates opportunities, inspires people to start businesses, stimulates expansion of existing businesses, and, ultimately, leads to the creation of jobs, increased economic growth and higher incomes.
As a result of the implementation of the policy, President noted that citizens should be to expand their scope of choice in consumption and saving decisions, “whilst Government is able to enhance its capacity to provide basic public goods and services that citizens desire; enhance access to social services, such as education, training and skills development and healthcare; and direct investment in infrastructure, such as transportation, power, affordable housing and water.”
To this end, Government’s policy direction, according to the President, is founded on five pillars of growth and development, namely revitalizing the economy; transforming agriculture and industry; revamping economic and social infrastructure; strengthening social protection and inclusion; and reforming delivery of public service institutions.
With the Coordinated Programme for Economic and Social Development Policies titled the “Agenda for Jobs: Creating Prosperity and Equal Opportunity for All”, the President noted that the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), as well as the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies, are to prepare their respective Medium-Term Development Strategies and Plans in response to, and for implementing, the policies under the Agenda.
“We will facilitate the private sector to develop its capacities and position itself to partner Government in implementing key initiatives identified under the Agenda. Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have the significant role of disseminating information on the Agenda, facilitating direct interventions at the community level, and ensuring accountability in delivery,” he said.
The transformation of the Ghanaian economy, President Akufo-Addo noted, demands the establishment of a world class labour force, adding that the Agenda proposes the development of a more and robust labour market data through operationalizing the Ghana Labour Market Information System (GLMIS), linking public service pay to productivity, making it more responsive to modern trends, introducing life-long skill training for workers, and improving the work environment.
“Government’s efforts will include improving the work environment, formalizing the informal sectors of the economy, resourcing and enhancing the workplace conditions of the Labour Department, Management Development and Productivity Institute, Fair Wages and Salaries Commission, the Public Services Commission, Office of the Head of Civil Service, and Local Government Service among others. Engagement with the Trade Unions would be intensified to facilitate productivity and harmonious industrial relations,” he said.