Global pledges to speed up action on superbugs

Wellcome is investing £2.4 million in a new project to track the global impact of superbugs as part of our ongoing efforts to help address this urgent global health threat.

A doctor examines the x-ray of the chest of a patient with TB
Superbugs, such as multidrug-resistant TB, are progressing rapidly.
Credit: Sven Torfinn/Panos

The Global Burden of Disease AMR project will be launched today at our international Call to Action conference.

It is one of a number of pledges expected as government ministers, scientists, industry and civil society leaders meet in Berlin to discuss how to speed efforts to tackle drug-resistant infections.

Tim Jinks, Wellcome’s Head of Drug Resistant Infections, says: "While we have seen progress in recognition around the world of the threat that superbugs pose, we need to regain momentum. High-level commitments must quickly become action. The Global Burden of Disease AMR project will provide vital information on the spread and impact of drug-resistance – both critical to effectively targeting global efforts."

Global Burden of Disease AMR

The project, a collaboration between the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation(IHME) and University of Oxford’s Big Data Institute, will, for the very first time, map of disease and deaths caused by drug-resistant infections.

It is co-funded by the UK government, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Wellcome.

Over four years it will:

  • gather global data on select bacteria-antibacterial drug combinations
  • generate global estimates for those 'bug-drug' combinations from 1990 to the present in 195 countries and territories
  • produce detailed maps enabling policymakers and researchers to tailor future studies and interventions to the local level
  • provide free, public access to study results through interactive data visualisations.

Wellcome is also lauching a new international expert group at the Call to Action event – the Surveillance and Epidemiology of Drug Resistant Infections Consortium (SEDRIC). The collaboration will support development of global strategies, gathering and sharing data on transmission and control of drug-resistant infections and sharing best practice.

A Call to Action

Drug-resistant infections already kill 700,000 people a year worldwide.

The Call to Action event has been organised by Wellcome – in partnership with the UK, Thai and Ghanaian governments and the United Nations Foundation – to coordinate the range of international initiatives begun and address key critical gaps in global action, including:

  • reducing inappropriate antibiotic use in human and animal healthcare, and in food and the environment
  • improving access to existing and new antibiotics and treatments to make sure they are available in all countries for patients who need them
  • building new partnerships across industry, governments and civil society to ensure that there is proper collaboration.

Analysis by Wellcome and the UN Foundation shows that while 151 of 195 countries are developing an action plan to tackle drug-resistant infections, only half address the threat across human and animal health and the environment. Just one in five commit to reducing antibiotic use, improving hygiene and preserving antibiotics of last resort and only 5% are adequately funded and monitored.

Dr Jeremy Farrar, Wellcome’s Director, says: "There is no doubt that together we can stop the superbugs which could undermine the whole of modern medicine. But the impact is now and the time to act is now, we need to bring real urgency to this."

To help address the problem Wellcome is also funding research and development of new antibiotics. This year we’ve announced up to £120 million to our CARB-X partnership and up to £1 million to GARDP.

The actions shared at the event will support the work of the UN taskforce – the Inter-Agency Coordination Group (IACG) on AMR.

More information

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