In July 2022, more than 140 participants from 30 countries attended the annual ReAct Africa and South Centre conference in Lusaka, Zambia. The event, co-funded by ICARS and other partners, focused on Africa’s response to Antimicrobial Resistance: Accelerating One Health National Action Plans implementation for the next 5 years. By bringing together key stakeholders from across Africa and beyond, the conference provided fertile ground for cross-sectoral and regional networking, sharing of best practice and strategic alignment for maximum impact.
During the action-packed programme, ICARS hosted a session on sustainability of AMR interventions. With rapid presentations from individuals engaged in four research projects in Tanzania and Zambia, the session provided an opportunity to think about sustainability in the context of different interventions across the human and animal health sectors. This was followed by a panel discussion with representatives from Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, and Zambia to address how sustainable change can be delivered and how can stakeholders, including donors, support with this effort. In addition, ICARS moderated a presentation series on challenges in meeting goals for AMR prevention & intervention, and a panel discussion on emerging issues around AMR, including treaties and other instruments for pandemic preparedness and for antibiotic procurement.
The visibility of ICARS at the conference, and opportunity to present our model of working in partnership with countries led to four additional African countries including local and regional civil societies reaching out to suggest potential projects that we could co-develop with ministries.
As ICARS’ Partnerships and Stakeholder Engagement Lead in Africa, Dr. Mirfin Mpundu has been expanding our partnerships in the region and advising on the development, implementation, and evaluation of ICARS projects in Africa. Importantly, Mirfin is also the Director of ReAct Africa and therefore leads the ongoing ICARS and React collaboration, including our shared project to develop and test context-specific guidance and tools for National Action Plan implementation.
Given the growing portfolio of ICARS supported projects in Africa, the conference also provided a wonderful opportunity for teams to share learnings across projects and strengthen their cross-country networks. During a productive lunch meeting, individuals involved in various ICARS projects discussed their experiences of engaging in the co-development process and explored opportunities for developing an online community of practice. Facilitating South-South learning and ensuring an agile and adaptive co-development process is a critical component of ICARS strategy. At the heart of sustainability is the need for solutions to be country-owned and backed by political commitment – this is only possible when processes are responsive to the needs of countries and nimble when becoming embedded into new systems and settings.