Global antibiotic resistance tracking project launched

Global tracking
Global tracking

Kheng Ho Toh / Thinkstock

Global charitable foundation Wellcome Trust today announced a new research project to track and document the burden of disease associated with antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

The Global Burden of Disease AMR project will be collecting data from all over the world to create a map of disease and deaths caused by drug-resistant infections, according to a news release from UK-based Wellcome, which announced that it will be investing £2.4 million ($3.2 million US) in the project as part of its efforts to address the AMR threat. The UK government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are providing additional funding.

The work will be carried out by researchers from the University of Oxford's Big Data Institute and Centre for Tropical Medicine and Global Health, in collaboration with researchers from the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

Over the next 4 years, the researchers will collect data on select bacteria-antibacterial drug combinations, generating global estimates of resistance for these "bug-drug" duos from 1900 to the present in 195 countries. They will produce detailed maps to help policymakers and researchers develop tailored future studies and interventions.

The data will be included in the Global Burden of Disease database, a tool that enables researchers to quantify health loss from diseases, injuries, and risk factors. Interactive data visualizations will be free and publicly accessible.

"The Global Burden of Disease AMR project will provide vital information on the spread and impact of drug-resistance—both critical to effectively targeting global efforts," Tim Jinks, PhD, Wellcome's head of drug resistance, said in the news release.

Call to action

The announcement was made at the Call to Action conference in Berlin, a gathering of government ministers, scientists, industry officials, and civil society leaders to discuss the next steps in efforts to address AMR on a global level. The conference was organized by Wellcome in partnership with UK, Thai, and Ghanaian governments and the United Nations (UN) Foundation.

Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer for England, told the BBC in a radio interview today that the conference is in part an effort to regain the momentum that's been lost since September 2016, when the UN General Assembly agreed to take action on the AMR threat.

"We haven't had enough action to make a difference," Davies said. "So the object of this conference is to really put it in people's faces and say 'what are you doing?'"

A recent analysis by the Wellcome Trust and UN Foundation found that among 151 countries that responded to a questionnaire, 85% have developed or are developing a national action plan to address AMR, but fewer than half (48%) have a plan that addresses AMR in the human, animal, and environmental sectors. Only 5% have a plan with adequate funding and monitoring in place.

Davies said the Global Burden of Disease AMR project will create "a picture, year on year, about what's happening, and how it's going.

"In that way, people will be able to start to hold their governments to account," she said.

See also:

Oct 13 Wellcome Trust news release

Oct 13 BBC4 Today program

Sep 23 CIDRAP News story "Report highlights progress made in global AMR fight"

This week's top reads

Our underwriters