13. December 2023

ICARS Secures Funding from the Novo Nordisk Foundation to Develop a Sustainable Antibiotic Use Roadmap in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

The International Centre for Antimicrobial Resistance Solutions (ICARS) is pleased to announce an award from the Novo Nordisk Foundation (NNF) for its project, “Towards an Antibiotic Roadmap for the Sustainable Entry and Management of Antibiotic X (TANDEM-ABX) in Low- and Middle-Income Countries.”

Building a Sustainable Access and Stewardship Bridge for Mitigating Antimicrobial Resistance in LMICs

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a growing global health crisis, particularly affecting Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs). The diminishing antibiotic discovery pipeline also exacerbates the issue, with limited options of novel antibiotics. While the need for novel antibiotics is significant in these countries, access and appropriate use remain major challenges.

As an initial measure, improving antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) programmes in conjunction with antibiotic access programmes in LMICs should be prioritised. The project aims to integrate AMS programmes into existing national policies and programmes of LMICs, facilitating the introduction of new antibiotics while ensuring their effectiveness and long-term sustainability as a ‘global public good.’

In line with its vision and consistent support for AMS efforts since 2019, ICARS aims to establish a systematic and replicable roadmap for the utilisation of novel antibiotics in LMICs. This involves integrating AMS programmes into local priorities and capabilities, ensuring scalability, sustainability, and impactful outcomes for mitigating AMR.

ICARS’ Unique Approach and Collaborative Partnerships

Since its inception, ICARS has partnered with LMICs both at the high political level through collaborations with governments and ministries (top-down) and by mobilising local research institutions and various national stakeholders (bottom-up). This dual approach aims to address AMR collaboratively and is based on national priorities.

As ICARS’ Executive Director, Dr Sujith J Chandy, emphasises: “ICARS’ projects are co-developed in partnership with LMICs, tailored to their local context and needs.”

Additionally, and to deliver on its mission, ICARS has forged partnerships with key global, regional, and local stakeholders in the AMR field, including the UN Quadripartite organisations, the World Bank, ReAct Africa Network (RAN) and the International Vaccine Institute (IVI). These collaborations focus on both AMR-sensitive and AMR-specific programmes, ensuring synergy and preventing duplication.

Specific Goals of the NNF Grant

The NNF Planning Grant aims to gain a detailed understanding of the current policy and health system context in LMICs to support the sustainable use of novel antibiotics. This entails undertaking preparatory activities, such as establishing partnerships with both public and private sectors at the national level and working closely with AMR stakeholders on a global, regional, and local scale to formulate the roadmap.

The preparatory activities will take place in selected countries in Africa and Asia, leveraging ICARS’ existing partnerships with RAN and other significant global AMR stakeholders.

ReAct Africa Network and ICARS have a proven partnership since 2020. This has catalysed several AMR mitigation projects in the African continent. Through this project, we take a step further in providing sustainable solutions to AMR that have global relevance. This roadmap will be a valuable step for ensuring sustainable access to new antibiotics in the challenging context of LMICs in Africa,” says Dr Mirfin Mpundu, Director of ReAct Africa.

The planning project is scheduled to run from January 2024 to December 2024, providing time to identify stakeholders who will contribute to informing the global policy and programme work, with a specific focus on LMICs in Asia and Africa. At ICARS, this work will be led by Senior Science Advisor, Dr Jyoti Joshi (PI), and Science Director, Dr Robert Skov (Co-PI) with the support of other team members.

The goal of this roadmap is to conceptualise practical pathways to systematically develop an AMS enabling ecosystem in LMICs, where the AMR burden is the highest and practical pathways for sustainable and appropriate use are needed,” emphasises Dr Jyoti Joshi.

Expected Outcomes and Significance

Through collaborative partnerships, ICARS aims to promote the principles of equitable and sustainable use of novel antibiotics, ensuring their long-term viability globally. This Planning Grant will enable ICARS to advocate for and develop a proof of concept for the TANDEM-ABX framework, establishing strategic partnerships with local stakeholders, including institutions in the public and private sectors of LMICs.

Marianne Holm, Senior Scientific Manager at NNF noted: “We are pleased to endorse the vision and mission of ICARS, supporting their efforts to address drug-resistant infections in LMICs. This project aligns with our commitment to advancing research and innovation to address infectious diseases, including antimicrobial resistance.”