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04 Jun 2024

Doherty Institute awarded Fleming Fund Fellowship Program Grant to combat AMR

The WHO Collaborating Centre for Antimicrobial Resistance (WHO CC for AMR) at the Doherty Institute has been awarded a substantial £3.7 million (equivalent to about $7 million) from the UK Government's Fleming Fund to address the global threat of antimicrobial resistance.

Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) poses one of the most pressing challenges to public health today, causing at least 1.27 million deaths every year. It threatens to undermine decades of medical progress in treating infectious diseases due to overuse and misuse of antimicrobials. In the WHO South-East Asia Region, amidst ongoing challenges in infectious disease prevention and treatment, the burden of AMR weighs heavily on both public health and the economy.

Since 2019, the WHO CC for AMR supports countries in the region in combatting AMR. The Centre, a Host Institution for the Fleming Fund Fellowship Scheme in partnership with the Asia-Pacific Centre for Animal Health (APCAH) at the University of Melbourne, offers programs aimed at strengthening antimicrobial stewardship and laboratory capacity for diagnosis and surveillance of AMR, while accompanying the implementation of in-country National Action Plans.

With this second Fleming Fund Fellowship Program Grant, the team at WHO CC for AMR and APCAH will be able to continue delivering their comprehensive multi-year program based on a model of mentorship and on-the-job training, collaborative projects and intensive workshops, to support implementation of National AMR Action Plans, using a One Health approach.

To date, 53 Fleming Fund Fellows from Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste have completed the program, now equipped with a robust set of skills and knowledge to tackle AMR, positioning them as catalysts for impactful change in their countries. The second Fleming Fund Grant will allow an additional 50 scientists, clinicians, pharmacists, veterinarians and policy professionals to access this capacity-building program.

University of Melbourne’s Professor Ben Howden, co-Director of the WHO CC for AMR and Program Director for the Fleming Fund Fellowships Program at the Doherty Institute, said long-term, sustained collaboration is key for participating countries to develop more effective, region-specific strategies to detect, prevent and respond to AMR.

“The Fleming Fund Fellowship Program’s approach recognises that AMR is an urgent global issue, and addressing AMR requires coordinated international efforts. Our approach to mentoring and training promotes cross-sectoral collaboration and is building long-term partnerships with both the Fellows and key public health, veterinary and agricultural institutions across the region,” said Professor Howden.

“Enhanced capacity to address AMR will empower local experts to lead local AMR initiatives, strengthen overall health systems and improve the ability to respond to various public health threats.”

University of Melbourne’s Professor Sharon Lewin, Director of the Doherty Institute, said she is thrilled to announce this major milestone.

“This grant not only represents a significant financial investment but also a commitment to building a sustainable framework for AMR prevention and surveillance globally. We extend our gratitude to the UK Government for their generous support and look forward to the positive impact this program will continue to bring,” said Professor Lewin.

The Fleming Fund is a UK aid initiative that supports low- and middle-income countries in monitoring AMR. Through its Fellowship Scheme, the fund develops technical experts in national institutions in AMR and antimicrobial consumption and use, surveillance and policy.

The Doherty Institute’s WHO CC for AMR and the University of Melbourne’s Asia Pacific Centre for Animal Health are the Host Institutions for Fellowships across Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste.