President Alvi of Pakistan calls for massive changes in antibiotic drug use

The President reiterated his support for the Fleming Fund’s activities in Pakistan during a meeting with the British High Commissioner for Pakistan, Dr Christian Turner.

The President of Pakistan, Dr Arif Alvi, has called for massive changes in antibiotic drug use in humans, animals, and the environment, saying the unnecessary use of antibiotics poses a serious health challenge for the whole society.

The President expressed his views following a meeting with the British High Commission to review the UK/Pakistan Fleming Fund partnership on drug resistance. The President informed the delegation that representatives from the central and provincial government were committed to tackling these issues within the country.

Data from the Global Antibiotic Resistance Partnership suggest that in Pakistan there are an unnecessary number of registered antimicrobial products, a widespread practice of self-medication and excessive prescription of antibiotics by medical practitioners – all of which contribute to drug resistance.

The Fleming Fund is investing over £9 million in Pakistan to tackle resistance by strengthening systems and supporting public health laboratories in the country. Since 2019, key achievements have included:

Drug Resistance, also known as antimicrobial resistance (AMR), is a growing global health threat and occurs when bacteria survive exposure to antibiotics that would normally kill them. Researchers estimate drug resistance could claim up to 10 million lives a year and cost £85 trillion by 2050.

The Fleming Fund, managed by the UK Department of Health and Social Care in partnership with Mott MacDonald, the Fleming Fund Grant Management Agent, aims to tackle drug resistance by issues by investing in surveillance of drug resistance and drug use. In Pakistan, international development company DAI is acting as the lead grant delivering the Pakistan Country Grant, which is focused on refurbishing laboratories and strengthening AMR collaboration.

Like COVID-19, drug resistance does not respect borders. I’m delighted that, with the support of President Alvi, UK and Pakistan are working together to tackle the threat of antimicrobial resistance in Pakistan. The Fleming Fund is investing over £9 million in Pakistan to address this and support public health laboratories in the country.

Dr Christian Turner, British High Commissioner, Pakistan

AMR is an emerging threat and is a rapidly evolving situation with an ongoing outbreak. We need to be aware acutely that this is a very special and serious situation and there is a necessity to enhance financial and technical commitment for AMR at the national level, strengthen provincial capacities and work in coordination across the country.

Ayesha Rasheed, DAI Lead, Pakistan

It has been a pleasure to work in partnership with the Government of Pakistan and the UK government to help strengthen Pakistan’s health systems and contribute to tackling the threat of antimicrobial resistance. We are delighted with the president’s announcement today and hope that further attention to this issue will help stop the spread of drug resistance.

Stanley Fenwick, Regional Coordinator for Fleming Fund Management Agent, Mott MacDonald

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The UK government's Fleming Fund project in Pakistan, led by grantee DAI and managed by Mott MacDonald, won the global antimicrobial stewardship prize from the AMR Industry Alliance for bringing antimicrobial resistance (AMR) awareness to the forefront of clinical care.

Antibiotic use has contributed significantly to many successes in human medicine and improvement in animal welfare. There is however global concern about non-regulation of antibiotics in food producing animals due to the great threat it poses to public health. This publication was co-written by Fleming Fund Fellow, Mary Nkansa.