BRITAIN’S government has entered into a £10.7m partnership with Nigeria aimed at tackling drug resistance through a variety of measures to combat the growing menace of certain ailments refusing to yield to medication.
At a recent meeting between representatives of Nigeria’s ministries of health, agriculture and the environment hosted by the UK’s high commissioner in Abuja, the two countries launched the partnership aimed at tackling drug resistance through improving public health surveillance systems, the upgrading of laboratory equipment and training technicians and scientists. It is part of The Fleming Fund, a £265m programme by UK Aid aimed at tackling the growing threat of drug resistance, referred to as antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in low and middle-income countries.
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 and it is believed that if the current trends continue, drug resistance could claim up to 10m lives a year and cost £85trn by 2050.
According to participants at the gathering, 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.
The Fleming Fund, managed by the UK Department of Health and Social Care in partnership with Mott MacDonald, targets the core of these issues by improving surveillance of antimicrobial resistance and drug use in humans and animals. In addition, the fund also supports laboratory infrastructure development, global technical expertise advancement in AMR and encourages the 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 and investment in 18 laboratories across the country.
British high commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, 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.”
Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu the director general of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, added: “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 and 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.”