Professor David Aanensen
Director, NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Genomic Surveillance of Antimicrobial Resistance, University of Oxford
The genomic sequencing revolution is enabling researchers in low and middle income countries to swiftly tackle challenges from AMR to COVID-19 as they emerge.
AMR threatens healthcare at every level in every country. Partnerships are essential to enhance strategic surveillance in key countries worldwide.
Our partners are equipped with genome sequencing and analytic expertise to map the emergence and spread of priority pathogens and variants of concern. An example of this is the Ibadan University team, who confirmed an Acinetobacter hospital ICU colonisation outbreak and was able to support the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.
In the Philippines, we have helped control outbreaks in multiple hospitals. Agrosavia, our partner in Colombia, was able to detect and confirm a serious outbreak of salmonella in Calí. Our partners are also helping influence national policy and authoring reports for the World Health Organization.
Introducing global AMR surveillance
Last year, our partnership adapted their sequencing capacity to tackle COVID-19. Our India partners are now a nationally accredited COVID-19 testing lab and Agrosavia is scaling up and training other labs across South America.
Our ambition is to establish a globally distributed genomic surveillance network for AMR that generates actionable data which will enable policy makers and public health programmes to make informed decisions in real time. This will mean we can catch up with the evolving pathogens and eventually we hope to outsmart them.
Our ambition is to establish a globally distributed genomic surveillance network for AMR.
To achieve this, we are working alongside other NIHR funded groups. For example, the NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Tackling Infections to Benefit Africa (TIBA) partnership has enabled the development of viral sequencing capacity in 13 countries across Africa, informing national and regional responses to COVID-19 working closely with the WHO Africa Regional office.
In Asia, NIHR partners with WHO TDR to coordinate operational research in AMR control in healthcare facilities across Nepal and is working in other low-income settings worldwide. This work has generated many important research papers and is informing government policy, WHO guidelines and helping clinicians and researchers tackling disease threats all over the world. It is a privilege to be able to support this global effort.