The UK and Vietnam commit to taking action against drug resistance through new Memorandum of Understanding

The UK Government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Vietnam further strengthening a partnership between the two countries to tackle antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

The agreement supports the existing work of UK aid’s Fleming Fund in Vietnam, a programme aimed at equipping laboratories and strengthening AMR surveillance systems in low-and middle-income countries.

Commenting on the announcement, the British Ambassador to Vietnam Gareth Ward said:

COVID -19 has shown that countries must work together to address global health threats. Drug resistance is a hidden and growing pandemic. Researchers estimate some 700,000 people die each year from drug resistant infections, but if the current trends continue that number could rise to 10 million deaths a year by 2050. I am delighted to sign this MoU today which further strengthens the UK-Vietnam partnership on antimicrobial resistance. The collaboration is underpinned by £8.9m investment from the UK’s Fleming Fund which will improve laboratory capacity and surveillance of AMR in Vietnam across human health and animal health sectors.

The Fleming Fund, managed by the UK Department of Health and Social Care in partnership with Mott MacDonald, the Fleming Fund Management Agent for the Country and Regional Grants and Fellowship Programme, invests in AMR surveillance to generate data about drug resistance and drug use. Data can then be shared to support patient care, improve health policies and build a picture of global resistance trends.

The Fleming Fund has been working in Vietnam since 2015 but invested nearly £9million in the country in 2019, appointing FHI360 to support 23 laboratories, improve One Health information sharing and support a joint One Health surveillance system. This activity will complement Vietnam’s existing One Health Strategy that focuses on long-term capacity building, preparedness and prevention across human health, animal health and the environment.

Reducing the threat of drug resistance in Vietnam is critical, as research suggests the country has one of the highest rates of antimicrobial drug use in Asia. Drug resistance is largely driven by global overuse of antibiotics in healthcare and farming and, because antibiotics underpin almost all medical care, drug resistance jeopardises the effectiveness of modern medicine.

AMR occurs when bacteria survive exposure to antibiotics that would normally kill them. To manage this growing threat, fundamental changes are needed in the way antibiotics are consumed and manufactured. Better data is also needed to understand how resistance develops and how drugs are used.

Prof Stanley Fenwick, South East Asia Regional Coordinator, Fleming Fund Management Agent, Mott MacDonald said:

Vietnam is a key country in the region’s fight against antimicrobial resistance and the signing of this MOU between the UK Government and the Government of Vietnam is a significant step in formalising collaboration between the two countries. The MOU will be used to support and facilitate coordination between relevant institutions and hospitals and the Fleming Fund programme with the aim of reducing the burden of AMR in Vietnam.

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