It is critical for the world to prevent the overuse of antibiotics and the India-UK collaboration in antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is the next big frontier after the vaccine partnership during the COVID-19 pandemic, UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid said on Thursday.
His comments at the India Global Forum’s UK-India Week summit came as the UK government announced further investment into finding new treatments to tackle drug-resistant infections. The GBP 4.5 million investment made by the government’s Global AMR Innovation Fund (GAMRIF) will support the Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership (GARDP) to develop new treatments for drug-resistant infections identified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as the greatest threat to global health and development.
“A huge area of cooperation with India is antimicrobial resistance (AMR),” Javid told PTI.
“We are sad as a world losing the use of certain antibiotics, something we are very dependent on. We must prevent overuse together and look at R&D for new antibiotics. The UK, through the Fleming Fund, is providing support and funding to Indian scientists to work together on one of the biggest health threats the world is currently facing,” he said.
The British Pakistani minister, whose father was born in Jalandhar, said India has a “special place in his heart” and confirmed that the India-UK Health Dialogue is scheduled for later this year in India after being postponed over the pandemic.
“Our vaccine cooperation through the pandemic was fantastic but we don’t want that to be a one-off,” he said, with reference to the Oxford/AstraZeneca and Serum Institute of India (SII) partnership for COVID-19 vaccines.
“Both sides are very ambitious in what we want to achieve, including through a free trade agreement (FTA). We both have a strong life sciences sector. Last year, we had the highest number of Indian-trained nurses come to the UK than we have seen in three decades. We want that exchange to continue and grow,” he said.
“India and the UK working together will be much better prepared for future healthcare risks,” he added.
Javid was joined virtually at the India Global Forum summit by Mansukh Mandaviya, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, who also highlighted the India-UK cooperation in the field of vaccines and pharmaceuticals.
“With Covid, healthcare and emergency crisis management has emerged as another important collaboration area in an already strong UK-India healthcare partnership. COVID-19 has highlighted the need to build resilient health infrastructures,” said Mandaviya.