March 18, 2021

COMBAT-AMR officially launches project in Fiji

The COMBAT-AMR project officially launched in Fiji on Thursday, 4th March as part of the initiative to mitigate the threat of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) in Pacific Island Countries.

COMBAT-AMR is a two-and-a-half-year project led by the Doherty Institute and funded by the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Indo-Pacific Centre for Health Security, that will work collaboratively in Fiji with the National AMR Committee, public health counterparts and regional stakeholders (including WHO Western Pacific Regional Office, The Pacific Community (SPC) and the Fleming Fund) to promote sustainability and ensure project activities align with the Fiji National AMR Action Plan and public health priorities.

Hosted by the Fiji Ministry of Health and Medical Services at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital, Suva, the launch brought together project partners and collaborators, health and veterinary professionals, government and industry representatives, and the WHO and SPC to discuss the importance of prioritising strategies to reduce the impact of antimicrobial resistance in Fiji and Pacific Island Countries.

Permanent Secretary for Health and Medical Services Fiji, Dr James Fong and Ms Rochelle White, Counsellor Regional Health, Education and Gender at the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), led the discussion with their keynote addresses.

Dr James Fong addressed the rapidly growing threat of AMR worldwide and the association with a high incidence of morbidity, mortality, pro-longed hospital admission and significant costs to the health system.

AMR represents a significant threat to the global community, global health, food security and economic growth. The World Health Organisation, Food and Agriculture Organisation of theUnited Nations FAO and the World Organisation of Animal Health, all acknowledge the magnitude of this problem and have committed urgent collaborative, multidisciplinary action to tackle AMR.

COMBAT-AMR project partners are using a collaborative approach, working in-country to understand the nature and spread of AMR.

Ms Rochelle White said, “The main drivers of this resistance include the misuse and overuse of antimicrobials, lack of access to clean water, issues around sanitation and hygiene in both humans and animals, poor infection and disease prevention and control in health facilities, access to quality affordable medicines, vaccines, diagnostics and the lack of legislation to help enforce that.”

“A project like COMBAT-AMR will help us achieve a better understanding of how AMR exists and how it evolves.”

Using a One Health approach, the COMBAT-AMR project will continue to work with in-country Fijian partners during 2021, in line with the National AMR Action Plan, to deliver a program of work focusing on Infection Prevention and Control, Antimicrobial Stewardship, Laboratory Capacity and Surveillance, and Animal Health.