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Africa Health 2014 to discuss how the global threat of antimicrobial resistance is increasingly affecting Africa

Johannesburg, South Africa – The imminent Africa Health Exhibition & Congress 2014, which takes place hot on the heels of the release of the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s first comprehensive report on antimicrobial resistance, will provide a crucial platform for medical practitioners from South Africa and neighbouring countries to zone in on WHO’s disturbing findings.  Tasked with leading the discussion at the Africa Health Congress, taking place at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand from 29-31 May 2014, is Professor Nontombi Mbelle, Business Manager at the Chris Hani Laboratory Complex in Johannesburg. Her topic, ‘Antimicrobial Resistance: A global problem affecting Africa’ sheds light on the incidence of this worrying global trend from an African perspective, highlighting its prevalence on the continent.


The WHO report, which was issued late last month, highlights the fact that antimicrobial resistance in bacteria (the main focus of the report), fungi, viruses, and parasites is an increasingly serious threat globally; so serious that it threatens the achievements of modern medicine. Few, if any of the available treatment options remain effective for common infections. Another important finding of the report is that global surveillance of antibacterial resistance is neither coordinated nor harmonised and there are many gaps in information on bacteria of major public health importance.


Professor Mbelle asserts that the prevalence of resistance varies with different organisms but is increasing over time. “This results from correct or incorrect exposure to antimicrobials. In addition resistance genes such as the NDM and KPC carbapemenases have been described as well as clones such as the ST131.


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“The key issues that will be brought to the fore at the upcoming Africa Health Congress include the rapid rise in antimicrobial resistance in Africa, and the ability to research these pertinent issues in the local context, thus acquiring international expertise. The paper also explores the presence of important clones that have spread from other continents, as well as the importance of antimicrobial stewardship”, she said.


With particular reference to the WHO African region, the report revealed major gaps in tracking of antibiotic resistance in the region, with data gathered in a limited number of countries. However, the data that is available is said to be worrying. Significant resistance is reported for several bacteria that are spread in hospitals and communities. This includes significant E. coli resistance to third generation cephalosporins and fluoroquinolones – two important and commonly used types of antibacterial medicine. In some parts of the region, as many as 80% of Staphylococcus aureus infections are reported to be resistant to methicillin (MRSA), meaning treatment with standard antibiotics does not work.


Media reports indicate that the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has reported that overall though, South Africa has a low prevalence rate of drug-resistant disease compared to the rest of the world. From November 2011 to July 2013, the NICD confirmed 131 patients across South Africa had carbapenemase-resistant enterobacteriaceae (CRE), a particularly nasty kind of bacteria highly resistant to antibiotics. Though the actual number is likely higher, it’s a far cry from US statistics, where researchers estimate more than 2 million people are infected with drug-resistant organisms, according to a 2013 Medscape article.


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The WHO report is a catalyst to kick-start a global campaign to develop tools and standards to track drug resistance, measure its health and economic impact, and design solutions. Africa. Health 2014 is dubbed as the continent’s premier medical showcase. The event which is hosted by Informa Life Sciences Exhibitions, comprises a three-day conference and exhibition featuring the latest medical innovations from international manufacturers. This year, more 5000 delegates are expected to attend the medical showcase.


Editors Note:

Informa Group is an independent organisation, formed in December 1998 by the merger of IBC Group plc and LLP (Lloyd’s of London Press) in London, United Kingdom. Currently, the head office is based in Zug, Switzerland.


The Life Sciences Division of Informa Group consists of 20 exhibitions and more than 100 conferences yearly covering the European, African, Middle Eastern and Asian markets. Informa Life Sciences Exhibitions is primarily concerned with providing accredited medical education to healthcare professionals who are interested in updating and furthering their clinical knowledge and skills. By ensuring that our conferences are accredited and our speakers are leading experts in their fields, Informa Life Sciences Exhibitions is committed to providing the best possible medical education available within the regions that we operate.


For more information about Africa Health Exhibition & Congress 2014, please visit www.africahealthconferences.com


For editorial enquiries contact:


Angela Makholwa-Moabelo

Britespark Communications

Tel: +27 11 315 0092

Mobile: +27 82 337 7954

Email: amakholwa@britespark.co.za



Nomakhosi Mbatha

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Email           Noma@britespark.co.za