Implementation of the World Health Organization Global Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System in Uganda, 2015-2020: Mixed-Methods Study Using National Surveillance Data

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is an emerging public health crisis in Uganda. The World Health Organization (WHO) Global Action Plan recommends that countries should develop and implement National Action Plans for AMR. We describe the establishment of the national AMR program in Uganda and present the early microbial sensitivity results from the program.

The aim of this study is to describe a national surveillance program that was developed to perform the systematic and continuous collection, analysis, and interpretation of AMR data.

A systematic qualitative description of the process and progress made in the establishment of the national AMR program is provided, detailing the progress made from 2015 to 2020. This is followed by a report of the findings of the isolates that were collected from AMR surveillance sites. Identification and antimicrobial susceptibility testing (AST) of the bacterial isolates were performed using standard methods at both the surveillance sites and the reference laboratory.

Remarkable progress has been achieved in the establishment of the national AMR program, which is guided by the WHO Global Laboratory AMR Surveillance System (GLASS) in Uganda. A functional national coordinating center for AMR has been established with a supporting designated reference laboratory. WHONET software for AMR data management has been installed in the surveillance sites and laboratory staff trained on data quality assurance. Uganda has progressively submitted data to the WHO GLASS reporting system. Of the 19,216 isolates from WHO GLASS priority specimens collected from October 2015 to June 2020, 22.95% (n=4411) had community-acquired infections, 9.46% (n=1818) had hospital-acquired infections, and 68.57% (n=12,987) had infections of unknown origin. The highest proportion of the specimens was blood (12,398/19,216, 64.52%), followed by urine (5278/19,216, 27.47%) and stool (1266/19,216, 6.59%), whereas the lowest proportion was urogenital swabs (274/19,216, 1.4%). The mean age was 19.1 (SD 19.8 years), whereas the median age was 13 years (IQR 28). Approximately 49.13% (9440/19,216) of the participants were female and 50.51% (9706/19,216) were male. Participants with community-acquired infections were older (mean age 28, SD 18.6 years; median age 26, IQR 20.5 years) than those with hospital-acquired infections (mean age 17.3, SD 20.9 years; median age 8, IQR 26 years). All gram-negative (Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Neisseria gonorrhoeae) and gram-positive (Staphylococcus aureus and Enterococcus sp) bacteria with AST showed resistance to each of the tested antibiotics.

Uganda is the first African country to implement a structured national AMR surveillance program in alignment with the WHO GLASS. The reported AST data indicate very high resistance to the recommended and prescribed antibiotics for treatment of infections. More effort is required regarding quality assurance of laboratory testing methodologies to ensure optimal adherence to WHO GLASS–recommended pathogen-antimicrobial combinations. The current AMR data will inform the development of treatment algorithms and clinical guidelines

Case studies for implementing MCDA for tender and purchasing decisions in hospitals in Indonesia and Thailand

A multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) approach has been suggested for helping purchasers in low- and middle-income countries in an evidence-based assessment of multi-source pharmaceuticals to mitigate potential adverse consequences of price-based decisions on patient access to effective medicines. Six workshops for developing MCDA-instruments for purchasing were conducted in Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Thailand, and Kuwait in 2017–2020. In Indonesia and Thailand, two pilot-initiatives aimed to implement the instruments for hospital drug purchasing decisions.

By analysing and comparing the experiences and progress from the MCDA-workshops and the two case-examples for hospital implementation in Indonesia and Thailand, we aim to gain insights, which will support future implementation.

The selection of criteria and their average weight were compared quantitatively across the MCDA-instruments developed in all four countries and settings. Implementation experiences from two case-examples were studied, which included (1) testing the instrument across a variety of drugs in seven hospitals in Thailand and (2) implementation in one specialty hospital in Indonesia. Semi-structured interviews were conducted via web-conferences with four diverse stakeholders in the pilot implementation projects in Thailand and Indonesia. The open responses were evaluated through qualitative content analysis and synthesis using grounded theory coding.

Drivers for implementation were making ‘better’ decisions, achieving transparency and a rational selection process, reducing drug shortages, and assuring consistent quality. Challenges were seen on the technical level (definition or of criteria, scoring methods, access to data) or change-related challenges (resistance, perception of increased workload, lack of competencies or capabilities, lack of resources). The comparison of the MCDA instruments revealed high similarity, but also clear need for local adaptations in each specific case.

A set a of measures targeting challenges related to utility, methodology, data requirements, capacity building and training as well as the broader societal impact can help to overcome challenges in the implementation. Careful planning of implementation and organizational change is recommended for ensuring commitment and fit to local context and culture. Designing a collaborative change program for each application of MCDA-based purchasing will enable healthcare stakeholders to maximally benefit in terms of quality and effectiveness of care and access for patients.

Expert commentary on the challenges and opportunities for surgical site infection prevention through implementation of evidence-based guidelines in the Asia–Pacific Region

Surgical site infections (SSIs) are a significant source of morbidity and mortality in the Asia–Pacific region (APAC), adversely impacting patient quality of life, fiscal productivity and placing a major economic burden on the country’s healthcare system. This commentary reports the findings of a two-day meeting that was held in Singapore on July 30–31, 2019, where a series of consensus recommendations were developed by an expert panel composed of infection control, surgical and quality experts from APAC nations in an effort to develop an evidence-based pathway to improving surgical patient outcomes in APAC.

The expert panel conducted a literature review targeting four sentinel areas within the APAC region: national and societal guidelines, implementation strategies, postoperative surveillance and clinical outcomes. The panel formulated a series of key questions regarding APAC-specific challenges and opportunities for SSI prevention.

The expert panel identified several challenges for mitigating SSIs in APAC; (a) constraints on human resources, (b) lack of adequate policies and procedures, (c) lack of a strong safety culture, (d) limitation in funding resources, (e) environmental and geographic challenges, (f) cultural diversity, (g) poor patient awareness and (h) limitation in self-responsibility. Corrective strategies for guideline implementation in APAC were proposed that included: (a) institutional ownership of infection prevention strategies, (b) perform baseline assessments, (c) review evidence-based practices within the local context, (d) develop a plan for guideline implementation, (e) assess outcome and stakeholder feedback, and (f) ensure long-term sustainability.

Reducing the risk of SSIs in APAC region will require: (a) ongoing consultation and collaboration among stakeholders with a high level of clinical staff engagement and (b) a strong institutional and national commitment to alleviate the burden of SSIs by embracing a safety culture and accountability.