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30 Jun 2020

Doherty Institute receives MRFF funding to prepare Fiji for pathogens with critical antimicrobial resistance

The Doherty Institute has received $823,055.25 from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) for a project to prepare Fiji for pathogens with critical antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

Led by Professor Kirsty Buising, a Royal Melbourne infectious diseases physician at the Doherty Institute, the project aims to better prepare healthcare facilities in the Pacific region and manage AMR, and in doing so will also limit the impact in Australia.

AMR is a major global health problem and rapidly growing threat, it’s associated with 10 million lives lost each year.

“Unchecked, AMR will lead to infections that are untreatable, threaten standard modern medical interventions such as surgery and chemotherapy, result in soaring health costs and impact on the economic potential of vulnerable communities,” Professor Buising said.

“Mortality from AMR infections in the Pacific region in particular has been projected to climb to 22,000 deaths per year by 2050, with an unequal burden borne by the region due to difficulties with access to resources, governance and management of health systems.”

This project will build on existing relationships with the Ministry of Health and Medical Services Fiji, and is aligned with immediate local needs to support the efficient translation and implementation of findings.

“We hope to better prepare hospitals in Fiji to detect, manage and respond to those affected by multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, carbapenem resistant Acinetobacter, Carbapenemase-producing Enterobacterales (CPE) and Candida Auris, to help mitigate the impact of these infectious diseases,” Professor Buising said.

The Doherty Institute has been at the forefront of Australia’s response to AMR with clinicians and researchers advising policy makers and practitioners.

In addition the Institute’s expertise in public health genomics, hospital level management and antimicrobial stewardship makes it well-placed to manage this project in Fiji.

University of Melbourne Professor Deborah Williamson Deputy Director of the Microbiological Unit Public Health Laboratory and Director of Royal Melbourne Hospital Clinical Microbiology is a co-investigator on the project.

She will be leading the work looking at the use of genomics to investigate and manage outbreaks which will help inform public health strategies for the future.

This grant is part of the MRFF Global Health Initiative - 2019 Tackling Antimicrobial Resistance and Drug Resistant Tuberculosis in Pacific Island Countries.