ASEANSeptember 12, 2022
The Southeast Asian region has been recognized as a hot spot of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR), which is a growing public health concern. Research on this subject in the ASEAN is fragmented and cannot reached an agreement on the One Health approach to the problem. A network of researchers and laboratories involved in AMR research from various fields, such as human health, animal health and environment, will provide capacity to develop an integrated ‘One Health’ approach for effective surveillance, containment, and advocacy towards AMR.
The University of Sydney has embarked on a project, ‘Networking One Health laboratories in ASEAN to Tackle Antimicrobial Resistance’ funded by DFAT through an Australia-ASEAN Council grant. This project aims at establishing a network of researchers and laboratories engaged in AMR research across Cambodia, Lao PDR, Vietnam, and Australia. The first virtual meeting to bring together the participating countries was held on September 7, 2022.
The Merieux Foundation which is leading the SEALAB project in the region, coordinating QWArS (Qualifying the Workforce for AMR Surveillance) program in Asia and implementing Fleming Fund Grant in Lao PDR, was invited to participate in this meeting.
The Australia-ASEAN Council (AAC), Chair Glenn Keys made the opening remarks for this first virtual meeting. He stated that the past years have shown that anticipating and responding globally to emerging health challenges is more pressing than ever and that this project represents a great opportunity for cross-country collaboration. Glenn Keys reiterated that partnership with the SEA neighbours is incredibly important for Australia.
Dr. Peter Horne, from DFAT kick-off the meeting, talking from Canberra. He reminded the participants that the CHS received M 300 funding, an increase of a further M 375, and that the design process is ongoing. He also emphasized that one of the key areas for engaging with partners are the AMR and more generally the ‘One Health approach’.
Researchers from Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam presented an overview of the AMR research in their respective countries, before breakout discussions on the opportunities and research needs, and challenges for research in each country and regional context.
The meeting was completed by a poll for regional challenges to rate the importance of the lack of labs, data sharing barriers, inadequate funding, technical limitations, coordination between ministries, cross-cultural understanding and political sensitivities.