29 March 2018 | Nairobi, Kenya & Cape Town, South Africa | The African Academy of Sciences (AAS) and the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) today announced an investment of $2 million to fund research into the scope of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in Africa and develop relevant technologies and products in response.
AMR essentially renders some drugs ineffective and has contributed to 700,000 deaths globally each year. Although resistance to commonly prescribed antibiotics has been witnessed in Africa, the full scope of the burden is not yet understood as 40% of African countries do not have sufficient data on AMR.
“Antimicrobial resistance is a complex threat to global health that is likely to compound the high disease burden in Africa and therefore requires us to increase our understanding to be adaptive and responsive,” said AESA Director Prof Tom Kariuki.
The funding for projects is made in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and through the Grand Challenges Africa Innovation Grants, which were created to catalyse scientific breakthroughs and find local solutions to solve Africa’s pressing challenges. It represents a second call of proposals from the innovation grants administered by the Grand Challenges Africa, a scheme implemented through the AAS and the NEPAD Agency’s Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA).
“Understanding the scale of antimicrobial resistance informs our strategic response to counter the impact of AMR in the provision of present and future healthcare on the continent,” said Professor Glenda Gray, President & CEO of the SAMRC. “It’s important that whilst we embark on research to understand the extent of the AMR burden we also invest in the development of new drugs,” added Professor Gray.
Seed grants to the value of $100,000 and full grants to the value of $250,000 will be awarded to researchers who reside in Africa, are associated with any reputable institution and will embark on projects that will research new approaches to characterise the global burden of antimicrobial resistance.
Funding will be given to projects that propose innovation in:
- Data sources: Pilot tests of new sources of data, particularly those that would bring together different research communities for new perspectives on the problem
- Analytical methods: Pilot tests of bioinformatics approaches, including those that combine or connect existing databases in novel ways
- Biomarkers: Pilot tests of new biomarkers or combinations of biomarkers that could lead to new understanding of the actionable implications of antimicrobial resistance surveillance data
- Low-cost technologies and products: Exploratory work in developing new technologies and products, including 1) those that specifically target improved infection prevention and control in healthcare settings to reduce reliance on healthcare provider behaviour change, and 2) technologies to remove antibiotics from effluents
“Antimicrobial resistance requires stewardship for the global good as resistance bacteria do not know and do not respect geographical boundaries. Africa needs to be better prepared for the benefit of its people,” said Dr Moses Alobo, the Programme Manager for Grand Challenges Africa.