World news story

UK and China launch joint project to fight antibiotic resistance

Project will address global challenge of drug-resistant ‘superbugs’ and the overuse of antibiotics.

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UK and China launch joint project to fight antibiotic resistance

UK and China launch joint project to fight antibiotic resistance

On 12 August 2014, the British Embassy in Beijing and China’s National Institute for Hospital Administration (NIHA) launched a new collaborative policy project on antimicrobial resistance (AMR), one of the most significant global health issues facing both the UK and China, along with the rest of the world.

The project will run until April 2015, and will look at how best to preserve current stocks of antimicrobials and how to monitor and contain drug-resistant infections. The project also aims to develop a toolkit to be piloted in Chinese hospitals with the aim of reducing the use of antibiotics. The project will see one of the UK’s foremost experts on the subject – Professor Peter Hawkey of the University of Birmingham and visiting professor at South Central University, Changsha – working with Chinese experts from the NIHA and the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China (NHFPC).

The UK and China announced their official cooperation on AMR at the UK-China Summit in December 2013.

Antimicrobial resistance – when microbes such as disease-causing bacteria become immune or resistant to antibiotic treatments – has recently come under the spotlight from world leaders and international media as having potentially catastrophic outcomes. Failure to address the use of antibiotics could find medicine set back a century, meaning that minor infections could once again become fatal.

In addition to this, part of the challenge of AMR lies in the fact that few new antibiotics have been developed in the last 20 years – so if existing antibiotics stop working, there will not be many alternatives.

During the project launch event, Andrew Key, Chargé d’Affaires at the British Embassy, said:

This is an excellent opportunity for the UK and China to work together and benefit the healthcare systems of both of our countries. The UK has taken a leadership role in the global fight against AMR and it’s a personal priority not only for our Chief Medical Officer, but also for Prime Minister David Cameron. We are confident that this project will produce important findings and recommendations that we can all learn from.

The launch of this project signals not only the deep ongoing collaboration between the UK and China in the healthcare sector, but also our shared commitment to improving global health outcomes for all. We look forward to a productive collaboration and a successful project.

Published 12 August 2014