Federal funding boost to address ‘superbugs’ in Asia-Pacific

Burnet Institute

08 April, 2019

Antimicrobial Resistance has emerged as one of the greatest health security threats of our time.

A Burnet-led initiative addressing antimicrobial resistance across three Pacific countries will benefit from AUD$127,000 in Federal Government funding.

Funded through the second round of the Australian Academy of Science’s Regional Collaborations Programme, the Burnet project will work with public health leaders in Kiribati, PNG and Solomon Islands. It is one of 14 global partnerships to share in AUD$1.25 million to tackle health, environmental and resources challenges.

In summary:

  • The project will work with partners in Kiribati, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Solomon Islands and Australia to improve systems for detecting and tracking antimicrobial resistance (AMR)
  • Unchecked, AMR could lead to infections that are untreatable, putting at risk everyday medical procedures such as surgery.

Burnet Program Director, Health Security, Dr Ben Coghlan said the money would go towards building systems for surveillance of AMR in the three countries that could also be scaled-up across the Pacific.

“This project will result in reliable, readily actionable local data related to AMR. In time, this will enable these countries to expand to a national AMR surveillance system and improve their responses to address AMR threats,” Dr Coghlan said.

AMR is the ability of a microorganism – bacteria, viruses and some parasites – to survive treatments, such as antibiotics, antivirals and antimalarials, that would normally be effective in killing the microorganism. As a result standard treatments become ineffective, infections persist and may spread to others.

Microorganisms that develop antimicrobial resistance are sometimes referred to as ‘superbugs’.

Dr Coghlan said AMR has emerged as one of the greatest health security threats of our time.

“The worldwide spread of AMR means it is a problem everywhere, but particularly in settings with fragile health systems such as in the Pacific,” Dr Coghlan said.

He said surveillance of AMR will guide research into new ways of preventing the spread of infections and novel responses to address AMR emergence.

The project is another initiative of ‘Kick AMR Pacific’, a network founded by Burnet Institute to spur action on AMR throughout the Pacific.

Burnet to lead special tuberculosis workshop

Burnet also received funding to host a workshop with Singaporean and Indonesian partners on eliminating tuberculosis under the Zero Tuberculosis Initiative.

Federal Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, the Hon Karen Andrews MP, said the program funding boost was strengthening Australia’s outreach and reputation in the region for its science and research capabilities.

Contact Details

For more information in relation to this news article, please contact:

Doctor Ben Coghlan

Leave of absence till Feb 2023




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