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UK - Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Novel inter-disciplinary approaches for identifying and tackling the spread of AntiMicrobial Resistance through Environmental pathways in PAKistan

Disclaimer: The data for this page has been produced from IATI data published by UK - Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Please contact them (Show Email Address) if you have any questions about their data.

Project Data Last Updated: 10/11/2021

IATI Identifier: GB-GOV-13-FUND--GCRF-MR_R015058_1


Medicine has been transformed by the development of antibiotics, medicines that kill bacteria. These have made deadly bacterial diseases that once killed millions such as tetanus, syphilis, and leprosy, easily treatable. They are given as a preventative measure prior to surgery to prevent infection and they relieve suffering from less dangerous diseases such as strep throat. There is, however, a problem. Bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics. This is a result of evolution. The use of antibiotics inevitably selects for bacteria that carry genes that can protect them against these compounds. We call these antibiotic or antibacterial resistance genes (ARGs). Genes are pieces of DNA that make up part of the bacteria's genome or smaller DNA molecules such as plasmids. ARGs provide bacteria with the ability to degrade or excrete antibiotics. They can be exchanged between different species of bacteria allowing these abilities to spread through communities. The use and misuse of antibiotics is accelerating the rate at which ARGs evolve and spread. Using antibiotics to treat non-bacterial infections or to improve the growth rate of livestock results in large amounts of antibiotics entering the environment, this creates a strong selective pressure leading to many resistant bacteria. This resistance can develop in free-living bacteria that perform important functions in ecosystems, e.g. soils or rivers, but then spread to bacteria that cause disease within humans, pathogens. There are pathogens beginning to appear that are resistant to multiple antibiotics, e.g. multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. If this multi-drug resistance spreads further then diseases that are now treatable will become increasingly deadly. This is a potential global public health disaster. The problems caused by antibiotic resistance (ABR) will particularly badly impact Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs), such as Pakistan, that depend upon cheap antibiotics to treat many infectious diseases. Tragically, it is just these countries, which are likely to have the most problems. This is because antibiotics are easily available without prescription over the counter. People take antibiotics to treat non-bacterial diseases or do not take them for long enough, this allows the resistant bacteria to spread and proliferate. This is compounded by manufacturers of antibiotics releasing wastewater contaminated with antibiotics into the environment, farmers using large quantities of antibiotics in intensive livestock rearing, and the fact that human and animal waste is dumped untreated into water sources. All this pollution results in more resistant bacteria evolving. It is unclear, however, which of these factors are most important to address, in order to prevent the spread of ABR. We have assembled a team of biologists, engineers, social scientists and mathematicians, to better understand ABR in Pakistan and how to combat it. We will conduct a survey of resistance genes across multiple areas within Pakistan, chosen in order to determine what causes them to proliferate and spread, ultimately leading to drug-resistant infections in humans. We will do this by sequencing DNA direct from environmental samples to resolve the genes that are present in the bacteria. We will sample from the environment and from a range of health facilities to reveal how genes are being transmitted from environmental bacteria into pathogens. We will also study the behaviour of people and institutions in Pakistan and determine how that contributes to the scale of the problem. This will allow us to propose ways in which they can reduce the spread of antibiotic resistant genes. These might be changes to how antibiotics are used in health facilities or improved approaches to waste disposal. This will be of great benefit to Pakistan but also - because these genes are capable of spreading between individuals across the world - to other LMICs and us in the UK too.


In order to develop this proposal, we are requesting the development award. The objectives of the development award are: A) Detailed sampling plan for full proposal B) Recruitment of stakeholders in Pakistan necessary to deliver the sampling regime C) Health systems scoping study D) Raising the profile of ABR in Pakistan E) Increasing dialogue between India and Pakistan regarding the common challenges faced by those countries in addressing AMR The objectives of the full proposal will be: 1) The overall objective will be to determine prevalence and rates of movement of ARGs between environments and reservoirs and how these are impacted by our hypothesised drivers, with a view to identifying areas of potential intervention around which stakeholder buy-in can coalesce 2) All activities will contribute to the development of research capacity for junior UK and Pakistani staff and foster exchange of scientific best practice 3) Design and implementation of an environmental sampling regime to determine the prevalence and incidence of ARGs in the three primary reservoirs (humans, animals and the environment) in each of the study areas 4) Generation of comprehensive metagenome sequence database across study areas coupled to high quality location meta-data 5) Quantify prevalence of an array of ARGs using high-throughput qPCR 6) Elucidate and map the socio-economic and environmental drivers of ABR in the study areas 7) Identify key points where practical intervention can reduce the prevalence of ARG in reservoirs and their transmission to human pathogens 8) Resolve which ABR genes are appearing in problematic pathogens and their spread both within healthcare associated facilities and the wider environment 9) Use the ARG data across reservoirs to determine transmission rates between organisms both within and across the three reservoirs and how these are impacted by ABR drivers 10) Use transmission rates to parameterise a simulation mathematical model to predict the efficacy of management interventions in terms of the prevalence of ABR human pathogens 11) To engage stakeholders, to investigate and advise on policy innovation and implementation

Status - Post-completion More information about project status
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Sectors groups as a percentage of country budgets according to the Development Assistance Committee's classifications.


A comparison across six financial years of forecast spend and the total amount of money spent on the project to date.

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