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UK to invest in new research against evolving global health threats

The Chief Medical Officer has announced funding for projects to help beat antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and achieve global universal health coverage.

The funding will include:

  • £6.2 million to strengthen existing surveillance systems tracking AMR trends across Africa and Asia
  • £12 million to improve collaborations on health systems research between low- and middle-income countries and the UK, for example countries in sub-Saharan Africa

The Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, announced the funding for the projects at the UN General Assembly.

She warned that the world cannot achieve universal health coverage without addressing the threat of AMR.

Universal health coverage is a UN ambition, and aims for every person across the globe to have access to basic healthcare, whatever their situation.

AMR is involved in 700,000 deaths around the world every year, and this is expected to rise to 10 million deaths a year by 2050. If AMR continues to follow current trends, common infections will become complex and expensive to treat, affecting tens of millions of people.

Achieving universal healthcare coverage also requires rigorous research to inform health policy and health systems.

Professor Davies is representing the UK at the UN General Assembly high-level meeting on universal health coverage in New York alongside heads of state, health experts and policy-makers.

She will point to infection prevention and control measures, such as immunisation, good hygiene and appropriate antibiotic use, as crucial to achieving both universal healthcare coverage and eliminating the threat of AMR.

The £6.2 million in UK Aid investment will come from the Fleming Fund. It will help improve AMR data quality, collection and sharing across Africa and Asia, with the aim of developing policy and action from that data.

The invitation to apply for a share of £12 million of funding is being made by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Global Health Research programme. It will enable experts from low- and middle-income countries and the UK to form partnerships to contribute to universal health coverage and sustainable development goals.

The Fleming Fund and NIHR Global Health Research funding was first announced as part of the 2015 spending review.

The UN has committed to ensuring all people have access to affordable healthcare by 2030, and recently member states adopted a declaration recognising that tackling AMR and innovative health research is crucial to this.

Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Dame Sally Davies yesterday said:

Achieving our common goal of universal health coverage will require global action on a multitude of fronts, including tackling the escalating threat of antimicrobial resistance and investing in research.

I am delighted to announce this funding, which will catalyse regional collaboration to help strengthen AMR surveillance systems across Africa and Asia and support the next generation of health policy and systems research.


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