Dr Tim Jinks and Dr Chibuzor Uchea from Wellcome Trust
Associate Professor Hsu Li Yang, Vice Dean of Global Health, Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health
Professor Wang Linfa, Executive Director of the Programme for Research in Epidemic Preparedness and Response (PREPARE), Singapore
It is my pleasure to join you today for the launch of the ADVANcing Clinical Evidence in Infectious Diseases network, also known as ADVANCE-ID network. To our overseas participants, a warm welcome to Singapore.
2. Over the last two years, the global COVID-19 pandemic has showed us that infectious diseases, including the threat of antimicrobial resistance, or AMR, easily transcend borders in today’s highly connected world. Infectious pathogens can emerge in one place and ride, be it on humans, animals and other vectors, food and fomite, and end up in a vastly distant location from its original source. An outbreak can be seeded in such manner, and where scientific developments have not caught up with a new and emerging pathogen, this is when epidemics and pandemics can occur.
3. AMR is what many might call a “slow burn pandemic”. So far, it has not caused lockdowns as was seen with COVID-19. However, its impact on our healthcare systems and communities can be profound. Pathogens resistant to the already limited antibiotic options we have today, can lead to poorer patient outcomes and greater difficulty in treatment. This could result in a longer hospital stay and higher overall healthcare costs.
4. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of scientific evidence and data in informing healthcare policies and public health responses. It has also spurred international collaboration and knowledge sharing, as countries sought to find urgent solutions to detect, treat and prevent the disease. Recognising the importance of transnational research partnership, the Ministry of Health in Singapore has recently launched the Programme for Research in Epidemic Preparedness and Response, or PREPARE, a dedicated research programme designed to strengthen pandemic preparedness and response capabilities.
5. Likewise, for AMR, we can similarly apply these principles to identify solutions to tackle resistant infections, and translate research findings into real-world practice. First, public health responses and plans should be backed by scientific evidence. Second, international partnership is key to tackle cross border spread of infectious diseases and resistant pathogens. This includes research, where collaboration across countries, organisations and disciplines can grow scientific networks, enable sustainable and efficient research, and extend the possibility of new discoveries.
6. ADVANCE-ID, a regional research collaboration comprising research networks and 40 hospitals across Asia, will foster partnerships and further strengthen capabilities in the region, by bringing together clinical and academic experts in the fields of AMR. These include the Wellcome Trust, a strong supporter of research in important health issues, partner academic and healthcare institutions in both Singapore and the region, and the Singapore Clinical Research Institute.
7. I am confident that the ADVANCE-ID initiative will enable many fruitful partnerships and exchanges, as it spurs quality clinical research to derive practical solutions and new ways to address AMR, inform upstream AMR-related policy strategies and ultimately improve health outcomes.
8. On behalf of the Ministry of Health, Singapore, I would like to congratulate the ADVANCE-ID team on your successful launch of the programme. I wish everyone an enriching symposium ahead. Thank you.