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UK Statement on Papua New Guinea’s First Antimicrobial Resistance Forum
Speech given by the UK High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea (PNG) supporting the opening of the 1st National antimicrobial resistance (AMR) Forum.
Thank you for inviting me here this morning to say a few words of support at this important milestone in Papua New Guinea’s efforts to tackle anti-microbial resistance (AMR). What, you might ask, is the United Kingdom doing at such an event?
UK and AMR
Quite simply, the British Government recognised the seriousness of the risk AMR poses to global health and modern medicine. Each year approximately 700,000 people around the world die due to drug-resistant infections including tuberculosis, pneumonia and malaria. If no action is taken, it is estimated that drug-resistant infections will kill 10 million people a year by 2050. These are quite staggering numbers.
In response, the UK set up the Fleming Fund, named after Alexander Fleming, the British scientist who discovered the world’s first anti-biotic. This Fund - worth £265 million (over 1 billion Kina) – is intended to help countries in Africa and Asia tackle drug resistance by getting better quality data on AMR to the people who make the decisions, so they can focus interventions where they are most needed. The UK, through the Fleming Fund, has already supported the development of the Papua New Guinea National Action Plan through a grant to WHO.
The Fleming Fund and PNG
Given the work already being done here on AMR, Papua New Guinea seemed an obvious partner. Over the last year, the Fleming Fund team has been working with many agencies to develop a comprehensive programme of activity that will directly support key priorities in Papua New Guinea’s National Action Plan. I am delighted to announce that this collaboration has resulted in a programme worth between 25 and 35 million Kina which is currently being finalised and which I hope will be launched formally later this year.
The programme has three main elements:
- Firstly, it will support the development of national laboratory capacity and diagnosis and surveillance systems in both human and animal health. In human health, the programme will seek to strengthen the Central Public Health Laboratory as well as laboratories at Port Moresby General Hospital, Angau Memorial General Hospital in Lae, Mt Hagen General Hospital, Nonga General Hospital in Rabaul, and Goroka Provincial Hospital. In animal health, it will support better testing at the National Animal Health and Food Testing Laboratory. I am particularly pleased that the scope of the programme extends far beyond Port Moresby.
- Secondly, it will support a “One Health” approach across government, encouraging interested Ministries and agencies, such as Health, Agriculture and Environment to work closely together. The problem of AMR is too complex to be addressed by individual Ministries – or countries – to tackle alone.
- Thirdly, it will provide on-the-job training, through the Fleming Fund Professional Fellowship scheme, and build a pool of local expertise here in Papua New Guinea to take forward the fight against AMR.
UK Activity in PNG
Having heard this, I hope you will understand my excitement at this collaboration – not only because we hope that increasing the availability of quality AMR data will enable Papua New Guinea to reduce the serious human and economic cost of drug resistance, but also because of what this says about the nature of the partnership between the United Kingdom and Papua New Guinea.
Firstly, 25 to 35 million Kina is a significant funding commitment for the UK. It symbolises our greater engagement in the Pacific – we are opening three new High Commissions this year – and to Papua New Guinea in particular.
Secondly, it is about helping Papua New Guinea develop its own skills and expertise.
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, this programme is the result of extensive collaboration between stakeholders. It supports the PNG National Action Plan on AMR and is fully aligned with the Medium Term Development Plan. In other words, this is an area of need identified by Papua New Guineans and a programme of support devised by Papua New Guineans. To me, that is real partnership in action, and I am proud to be associated with that and that the UK, through the Fleming Fund, is playing a role in helping you all build a better future.
Thank you, and I wish you well for the remainder of this 1st National AMR Forum.
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