New group aims to boost global AMR surveillance

Female scientist at microscope
Female scientist at microscope

LightFieldStudios / iStock

UK-based charitable organization the Wellcome Trust has announced the launch of a new effort to help countries track, share, and analyze information about antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

SEDRIC (Surveillance and Epidemiology of Drug-Resistant Infections Consortium) will bring together international experts in infectious diseases, epidemiology, and human and animal health to identify gaps in AMR surveillance, help countries strengthen and sustain their capacity to collect data on drug-resistant pathogens, and improve global coordination. The group will provide technical expertise and knowledge to help improve surveillance networks and look at how technology can be used to better understand resistance mechanisms and how infections spread.

"Drug-resistant infections are, like us, international travelers," Sharon Peacock, PhD, MRCP, chair of the group and an expert-in-residence at Wellcome Trust, said in a statement today. "We need to track which borders they cross, and how quickly. Without detailed and up-to-date information we cannot effectively intervene."

Peacock added that people on all levels, from healthcare providers to public health officials to policymakers, need to better understand where patients are acquiring bacteria that cause infections. "Are they acquiring bacteria from other patients, from healthcare settings, water or food, or the general environment?" she asked.

Examples of technology that Peacock said could help answer these questions are genomic testing and bacterial sequencing, which can help researchers identify the mechanisms of resistance and how it spreads. 

Building on other surveillance efforts

Peacock said SEDRIC will build on the work of the World Health Organization's (WHO's) Global Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System (GLASS), which yesterday released its first report, containing AMR data from 22 countries. GLASS was launched in 2015 to standardize the collection and sharing of AMR surveillance data across the globe, and is helping countries in their efforts to establish surveillance networks that can track the rise and spread of drug-resistant infections.

The WHO hailed the GLASS report as an important first step in efforts to establish a coordinated system of global AMR surveillance, but also noted that the data varied widely because of differences in surveillance capabilities. The report said that low- and middle-income nations face several challenges in building surveillance systems, including lack of funds and poor healthcare infrastructure.

SEDRIC is the latest effort by Wellcome Trust to improve knowledge on the global impact and scale of AMR. In October, Wellcome announced an investment of £2.4 million ($3.2 million US) in the Global Burden of Disease AMR project, which will be collecting data from all over the world to create a map of disease and deaths caused by drug-resistant infections.

See also:

Jan 30 Wellcome Trust statement on SEDRIC

Jan 29 CIDRAP News story "WHO releases its first report on global antibiotic resistance"

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