The United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has awarded official designation to the UK International Reference Centre for antimicrobial resistance (AMR)

The Centre brings together expertise to provide capacity development in investigating AMR from three Defra agencies with a strong international focus; the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas)the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD), and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

Christine Middlemiss, UK Chief Veterinary Officer said: “I congratulate the UK International Reference Centre for AMR and warmly welcome the recognition of its expertise by the United Nations.

“Enhancing global capability in reducing the use of antimicrobials and tackling the threat of AMR will be an important objective of the deep experience and expertise the collaborating agencies will provide.”

The Centre supports low and middle-income countries (LMICs) to improve laboratory and surveillance capacity that will monitor AMR and antimicrobial use, in addition to providing policy advice. The Centre also provides field and technical support to countries to tackle AMR, using a one health approach, which targets agriculture, aquaculture, livestock, environment and human health.

Formally launched at the 2nd Global AMR Call to Action summit in Accra in November 2018, the Centre has quickly established strong working relationships with academic institutes and several countries, including Bangladesh and Ghana. The Centre also works in close partnership with Public Health England through the WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference & Research on AMR and Healthcare Associated Infections.

The Centre receives funding from Defra and has recently been successful in receiving funding and support from the Department for Health and Social Care through the Fleming Fund. The Fleming Fund is a UK aid programme developing partnerships with LMICs to generate, share and use data in order to tackle AMR.

Lord Gardiner, Defra Biosecurity Minister said: “This is fantastic news for the UK International Reference Centre and recognises the excellent work it delivers in tackling AMR, as well as extending the UK’s international reach.

“This work is vital to tackle the threat AMR poses to the global economy and society. The UK recognises AMR as a priority issue and we know that this challenge requires truly global collaboration.”

A spokesperson for the Centre said:

“The designation of the UK International Reference Centre by the FAO underscores the importance of tackling AMR using a ‘One Health’ approach given the interdependence of human, animals and the environment. We look forward to our continued partnerships with FAO and nations around the world to address the unique threat posed by AMR.”


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