Improving antibiotic resistance in Ghana

Contributors from Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Ghana: Dr Daniel Ankrah, Mark Harrison, Tony Osei, Priscilla Ekpale, Julia Selby, Jennifer Laryea, Asiwome Aggor, Frempomaa Nelson, Helena Owusu, Grace Aboagye and Agnetta Ampomah

The Commonwealth Partnerships for Antimicrobial Stewardship (CwPAMS) educates, trains and supports overseas health workers to tackle the growing challenge of antimicrobial resistance. Partnerships are running in Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, with the support of UK health workers including pharmacists.

Here, the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Ghana – North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust (NMUH) partnership to explore their motivations and hopes for their project.

We were so pleased to hear of the CwPAMS scheme through the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana. As Deputy Director of Pharmaceutical Services at Korle Bu Hospital, antimicrobial resistance is a huge part of my job and one that I was interested to explore further.

My team’s desire to get involved in the scheme was underpinned by the fact that we would be working in partnership with the NMUH team, a team that has a lot of experience in this area and who want to share knowledge with us and also learn from our context. We were so pleased to be awarded this first grant for antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) and know that if we can demonstrate change and improvement, we can hope to make this work sustainable, helping us to do more to change the lives of the people living in Ghana.

We believe that if we can build professional capacity to deliver effective AMS and Infection Prevention Control (IPC) we can positively affect the lives of health workers and patients alike. We aim to do this by implementing basic antimicrobial strategies within the hospital including:

  • Investigating  precautionary use of antibiotics in humans
  • Practicing safe hand hygiene, an overarching activity involved in the reduction of transfer of most antimicrobial infections
  • Learning and routinely involving ourselves in surveillance of antibiotics using activities such as the point prevalence survey
  • Putting our institution on the global antibiotic map by contributing data to the Global Point Prevalence survey.

There will of course, like any new programme, be some obstacles to overcome but by working together through the partnership we are confident we can find ways to solves these together. Korle Bu is a 2000 bed hospital and so it will be tough to involve enough pharmacists in the programme as we conduct a hospital wide survey – in only one day – of all of the wards and their current practices. We know that we need to adapt and adopt guidelines for prescribing patterns across the hospital and work to ensure buy in from other health workers, beyond pharmacists, within the wards, to make sure our approach is focused on the hospital at large.

The team have skills and expertise that I think will benefit our UK colleagues too. Our clinical pharmacists who are involved with pharmaceutical care on the wards have knowledge on: developing data collection tools for operational use and research in pharmaceutical care, data collection on the wards using validated tools- skill in identifying and documenting care issues which includes antimicrobial use problems as well as experience in implementing and promoting adherence to clinical guidelines – all of which are so crucial when trying to affect behaviour change within a hospital setting.

The grant was awarded in February 2019 and project activity is ongoing until April 2020. It’s hoped that the partnership will continue to flourish afterwards. We hope to follow the teams progress and see their antimicrobial stewardship ambitions unfold over the course of the next year and beyond.

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