Bourgeois visits antibiotics research project in Maputo

Summary

A delegation of government representatives led by minister-president Geert Bourgeois is touring southern Africa and has visited a Flemish-funded health project

Fighting antibiotic resistance

Minister president Geert Bourgeois has visited an innovative research project supported by Flanders in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique. Bourgeois is currently on an official visit to a number of countries in southern Africa.

The research project, carried out by Mozambique’s National Institute of Health (INS), focuses on antibiotic resistance. The project is organised in conjunction with the Antwerp-based Institute for Tropical Medicine (ITM).

Micro-organisms developing an immunity to antibiotics seriously affects doctors’ ability to treat infectious disease. New strains of the disease develop against which existing antibiotics are useless; the pharmaceutical industry is increasingly hard-pressed to develop new effective drugs.

In Mozambique, bacterial infections are a major cause of illness and death. One of the causes of growing resistance is over-prescription of antibiotics. But doctors in the field do not always have effective laboratory support to determine the causes of disease.

“Tackling antibiotic resistance begins with correct information, but a shortage of effective surveillance gets in the way of a proper response,” said professor Jan Jacobs of ITM. “With better data we can implement improved treatment guidelines and take preventive measures against hospital infections.”

The project has been running since 2012, with the support of ITM and the Flemish government. “The support of Flanders helps strengthen the foundation of public health in Mozambique,” said INS director Ilesh Jani.

While in the Maputo, Bourgeois also visited Apopo, an Antwerp-based NGO that trains rats to detect tuberculosis and the location of land mines.

Earlier this week, Bourgeois met with Malawi’s agriculture minister, Joseph Mwanamvekha. This is the 10th anniversary of a structured co-operation between Flanders and Malawi in the area of sustainable agriculture.

Bourgeois has also signed a Memorandum of Understand on development co-operation with South African environment minister Edna Molewa. The work will mostly concern sustainability projects that address the effects of climate change. He went on to give a speech at the University of Pretoria’s Centre for Human Rights on development assistance.

Photo: Flemish minister-president Geert Bourgeois gives a speech at Pretoria University’s Centre for Human Rights
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