Volunteer pharmacists are to be sent to Africa to tackle anti-microbial resistance in partnership with local health workers. NHS England Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies says 12 teams of pharmacists and specialist nurses will work together in partnerships with local health workers in Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.   

The new Commonwealth Partnerships for Antimicrobial Stewardship (AMS) scheme, funded by the UK Department of Health and Social Care’s Fleming Fund, will be delivered in collaboration with the Commonwealth Pharmacists Association (CPA) and the Tropical Health Education Trust (THET), an international non-government organisations with expertise in delivering global health partnerships.

The NHS and national teams will work together to share experience and expertise to improve the detection and monitoring of resistant infections at the hospital level, take measures to reduce infection, and put in place steps to use antibiotics effectively.  

Professor Davies said: “AMR poses a risk to us all, wherever we call home. Collaboration with our friends and neighbours internationally is hugely important if we are to tackle this challenge together.

It is estimated that AMR accounts for 5,000 UK deaths every year.  The independent Review on Antimicrobial Resistance estimated that at least 700,000 deaths each year globally are attributable to drug resistance infections such as bacterial infections, malaria and HIV/AIDS. Unless action is taken, it is thought the burden of deaths from AMR could reach 10 million lives each year by 2050 at a cost to the global economy of up to $100 trillion (US).

The £1.34m funding for the initiative is part of a UK Government commitment to spend up to £265million of UK aid to support low and middle income countries to enhance their surveillance of AMR by 2021. Participating teams from the NHS will undertake two or three annual placements of up to four weeks at hospital sites in Commonwealth countries. Between visits teams will keep in touch through online mentoring arrangements.

The Commonwealth Pharmacists Association is a UK-based charity that advances health, promotes wellbeing and improves medicines-related education and use for the benefit of the people of the Commonwealth.

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