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24 Nov 2021

Doherty Institute celebrates launch of WHO Collaborating Centre for Antimicrobial Resistance

The Doherty Institute’s newly designated WHO Collaborating Centre for Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) celebrated the launch of key Centre activities in the Western Pacific region during World Antimicrobial Awareness Week.

Hosted online, the event brought together more than 100 partners and collaborators from across the Western Pacific region to acknowledge the launch of the Collaborating Centre, share experiences and learnings working on the frontline against the rising threat of AMR and to discuss ways to reduce the impact of AMR.

“Our multi-disciplinary team will leverage existing partnerships and expertise from across the Doherty Institute, to implement the Collaborating Centre activities,” said University of Melbourne Professor Ben Howden, Co-Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Antimicrobial Resistance.

“Key activities include guidance and training, the development of evidence-based policies and the advancement of AMR National Plans and the WHO’s AMR framework, across our three programs of work; laboratory diagnosis and surveillance, infection prevention and control and antimicrobial stewardship.”

Dr Soccoro Escalante, Essential Medicines and Health Technologies Coordinator at the World Health Organization Regional Office of the Western Pacific, opened the session and acknowledged the role the Collaborating Centre will play in advancing the implementation of the Framework for Accelerating Action to Fight Antimicrobial Resistance in the Western Pacific Region.

“Prior to the formal designation, the Collaborating Centre team had been working extensively with the WHO and Member States across the region to improve capacity for combatting AMR,” said Dr Escalante.

“The WHO’s framework for the Western Pacific Region was developed from a strategic, practical and programmatic perspective.

“Rather than looking at key actions and activities, we looked at four operational shifts we could adapt in the region, including having a long-term vision for AMR, championing health beyond the health sector, a sustainable systems approach and building solutions from the ground up. The Collaborating Centre will be essential to supporting these operational shifts in the region.”

During the event, Doherty Institute partners across Pacific Island countries presented their experiences working locally to reduce the spread of AMR.

Fleming Fund Fellowship grant recipient, Dr Gabriella Ak, spoke of the work she has achieved at the Port Moresby General Hospital through the Doherty Institute’s mentor program.

“There have been successful outcomes as a result of the AMR capacity activities I’ve implemented through the grant,” said Dr Ak.

“We’ve added Meropenem, a carbapenem-type antibiotic used to treat a wide range of bacterial infections, to our formulary, commenced in-house production of alcohol-based hand rub for the hospital, improved communication of microbiology results by establishing clinical WhatsApp groups and strengthened infection prevention and control through committees and hand hygiene protocol.”

Director of the Doherty Institute, Melbourne Laureate Professor Sharon Lewin, highlighted the importance of increasing advocacy for infectious diseases, particularly AMR.

“The WHO Collaborating Centre for Antimicrobial Resistance will not only allow for capacity building and training to improve health outcomes for many countries in the Western Pacific region but will also allow for increased advocacy to make sure this is not forgotten, and not underfunded,” Professor Lewin said.

“Working together in collaboration is the best way we can prevent and reduce the spread of AMR”.

Watch the launch event for the WHO Collaborating Centre for Antimicrobial Resistance