UK, Nigeria Launch £10m Partnership to Tackle Growing Threat of Drug Resistance

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Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson

The UK and Nigerian governments have formally launched a £10.7million  partnership, aimed at tackling drug resistance through improving public health surveillance systems, upgrading laboratory equipment, and training technicians and scientists.

Representatives from Nigeria’s Ministries of Health, Agriculture and Environment celebrated this new collaboration at a reception hosted by the UK’s High Commissioner.

The partnership is part of The Fleming Fund, a £265 million programme by UK Aid to tackle the growing threat of drug resistance – referred to as antimicrobial resistance (AMR) – in low and middle-income countries around the world.

AMR occurs when bacteria survive exposure to antibiotics that would normally kill them. Researchers estimate some 700,000 people die each year from these drug-resistant infections. It is believed that if the current trends continue, drug resistance could claim up to 10 million lives a year and cost £85 trillion by 2050.

Fundamental changes in the way antibiotics are consumed and manufactured around the world is needed to manage this risk. More comprehensive data is also needed to better understand how resistance develops and how drugs are used around the world.

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The Fleming Fund, managed by the UK Department of Health and Social Care in partnership with Mott MacDonald, the Fleming Fund Grant Management Agent targets the core of these issues by improving surveillance of antimicrobial resistance and drug use in humans and animals. The Fund also supports laboratory infrastructure development, global technical expertise advancement in AMR, and encourages appropriate use of antibiotics in humans, animals and the environment.

In Nigeria, the Fleming Fund has appointed DAI to support Nigeria’s surveillance system, in partnership with the Nigerian AMR coordination committee and other key partners.

Investments and activities in Nigeria to date include The appointment of 10 professional fellows who are receiving training on specific skills including data management, microbiology, epidemiology and biosafety to help tackle AMR; investment in 18 laboratories across the country.

Commenting on the announcement, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing CB, said: “Today’s announcement is a further demonstration of the UK’s commitment to working with Nigeria to help tackle global issues. Antimicrobial resistance is already killing hundreds of thousands of people across the world each year.

The UK’s Fleming Fund will help support the development of critical disease surveillance infrastructure, drive innovation, and build greater scientific links between the UK and Nigeria; to help protect Nigerians against this growing health threat.

The Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu said: “At the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, our core mandate is to prevent, detect, and control diseases of public health relevance. This includes threats such as antimicrobial resistance (AMR). With support from the UK government through the Fleming Fund; we are improving our laboratory capacity, surveillance of AMR and use of data in Nigeria, using a One Health approach. This partnership is beneficial and extends beyond AMR. It is helping to strengthen One Health collaboration in Nigeria, enabling prompt diagnosis of infectious diseases and advancing the health security of Nigerians.”

West Africa Regional Lead, Fleming Fund Management Agent, Mott MacDonald, Janine Mitchell, said: “It has been a wonderful experience to work alongside officials from the Government of Nigeria, who have been so engaged with the Fleming Fund and the design of this grant. With support through our partners, we hope this will eventually allow the Government of Nigeria to improve its understanding of the AMR problem and to prepare appropriate strategies to tackle it.”

Yetunde Adegoke

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