By Sharon Atieno

Despite the natural environment being an important reservoir of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), it receives less focus than AMR in human and animal health.

Mamo B. Mamo, Director General National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) said during the Launch of the World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) 2021 in Nairobi.

He said environmental considerations are critical to the One Health approach-combination of human, animal and environmental health- control of AMR because the environment serves as a reservoir of resistant microorganisms, and a route of transmission among humans, animals, and plants.

“Chemicals and drug residues including antimicrobials (antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals, and antiparasitic agents), and heavy metals in the environment can accelerate the emergence and spread of resistant microorganisms,” Mamo noted.

Mamo B. Mamo during the launch

He added that the sources of AMR in soil and water are numerous, including aquaculture, clinical / medical wastes, landfill, sewage or wastewater treatment plants, livestock farm, domestic animals and contaminated feeding among others.

Mamo mentioned that some of the pathways of AMR from these sources include liquid effluent and solid waste, manure application, run-off, discharges and leaching, sludge/discharges and air emissions.

According to the NEMA Director General, the sources and pathways  of AMR constitute the pollutants and contamination respectively. These pathways also present a target for intervention and measures for mitigation, he said.

He revealed that the Authority has prioritized several areas for the management of AMR in Environment which includes review of the current regulations to incorporate more parameters to monitor AMR in environment, strengthening regulatory requirements and capacities for waste management regulations and practices in Kenya, promoting research and development in AMR manufacture / production, treatment and disposal, improving Education on the management of AMR in Environment and improving monitoring and surveillance systems to identify AMR in the environment to inform policy decisions and solutions.

The WAAW is marked between 18-24th November of every year. This year’s theme, Spread Awareness, Stop Resistance, calls on One Health stakeholders, policymakers, health care providers, and the general public to be AMR Awareness champions.