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GSSHealth Partners with CDC, Health Ministries to Fight Antimicrobial Resistance in West Africa

In Africa, bacterial meningitis is associated with high morbidity and mortality, particularly among populations in the meningitis belt. Data collected during annual outbreaks in meningitis belt countries—including Burkina Faso and Togo—indicate the emergence of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in bacterial meningitis pathogens. The emergence of AMR indicates that previously effective antibiotics are losing their efficacy, which will lead to grave consequences for communities and health systems unless efforts are taken to prevent, detect, and respond to this public health threat.


Figure 1. AMR arises when bacteria and other pathogen types develop a resistance to available treatments, making it more challenging to overcome infections.

In recent years, the governments of Burkina Faso and Togo have taken note of the danger of AMR for diverse bacterial pathogens including those that cause meningitis. Increasing investments in public health and laboratory systems and national coordination efforts for AMR surveillance and response have helped, but systemic gaps and limited financing pose restrictions on the progress of nascent programs.

Technical and financial investments from international partners including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have proven indispensable, accelerating health system capacity building initiatives while ensuring that quality remains at the forefront of AMR efforts. As an implementing member of the CDC’s new Global Antimicrobial Resistance Laboratory and Response Network, GSSHealth will support the CDC and partner ministries to strengthen meningitis AMR detection and response initiatives in Burkina Faso and Togo.

Centering efforts on the needs of national health ministries and laboratory systems, we will cooperatively compile and harness high-quality data to inform local clinical decision making and public health response efforts around emerging AMR threats from bacterial meningitis. Data will be used to design targeted and pertinent interventions, together with our partners we will augment classical bacteriology and investigate the potential utility of molecular methodologies including next-generation sequencing (NGS). In concert with local and regional stakeholders, we will ensure that laboratory directors and staff have access to the systems, methods, skills, and supplies necessary for high-quality AMR detection and reporting and that the data the labs produce continues to inform national decision making.

Figure 2. Antimicrobial susceptibility testing on a blood agar plate, pictured here, is one method for detecting AMR in bacterial meningitis strains.

“We understand the local contexts of ongoing AMR capacity building efforts in Burkina Faso and Togo, having worked in both countries for many years on laboratory capacity building initiatives,” says Martin Adams, Senior Technical Lead at GSSHealth. “We will partner closely with local stakeholders to develop a well-coordinated program that melds into the existing national structures for AMR response.”


Taking a collaborative approach to laboratory strengthening, we will support country stakeholders to advance meningitis AMR detection, reporting, and response, ultimately advancing mechanisms to contain and mitigate challenges of meningitis AMR at the country and regional levels.

The Global AR Lab & Response Network is a global collaborative led by CDC to enhance global capacities to detect and respond to antimicrobial-resistant threats across the One Health spectrum. This work is funded by CDC’s AR Solutions Initiative. CDC is an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents of this webpage do not necessarily represent the policies of CDC or HHS and should not be considered an endorsement by the U.S. Federal Government.

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