Occurrence, Sources and Prevention of Antimicrobial Resistance in West Africa – Following the flow of AMR genes between humans, animals and environment

Research summary

Antibiotics have made it possible for people to live longer, healthier lives. Antimicrobial resistance, however, is an increasing problem,
especially in low-resource settings. This project will employ a range of methods from microbiology, clinical medicine and sociology to
produce new knowledge about how AMR genes spread especially in poor West African regions, in areas where local capacity to
address AMR is lagging behind, and identify ways to curb the spread of AMR. This knowledge can be utilized in national
and international health policy and medical research.

Description

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a global threat to human health. It has increased rapidly, especially in developing countries which
lack controlled antibiotic policy, and have poor infrastructures enabling the flow of AMR genes between the environment, animals and
humans. The struggle against AMR calls for novel tools which only can be found through deeper understanding of the flow of AMR
genes across the community. The present study focuses on the flow of AMR genes in West Africa, a region with extensive gaps in data,
joining environmental, microbiological, sociological, and medical expertise to explore the evolution and transfer of AMR genes between
water, soil, animals, food, and humans (One Health approach).

In this project, written in equal collaboration with partners based in West-African research institutes, we propose to explore AMR gene
flow using very advanced research methods, such as whole-genome sequencing. The study is harnessed for strengthening the capacity
in regions desperately needing support in their efforts against AMR and, at the same time, providing valuable data for deeper
understanding of the flow of AMR genes across the community. We aim to respond to local needs as identified by the project partners.
Our microbiological and sociological approaches will lead to new knowledge about the spread of AMR genes, combining the key
knowledge of the West African researchers to the new methods of Nordic researchers. We will explore various AMR genes in the
environment (e.g. waste and irrigation waters, animal faeces), isolate E. coli pathogens, from animal faeces and humans, and generate
understanding of the social practices that drive their spread. Cutting-edge research will be conducted in the region with the support of
the international partners working on AMR, thus renewing current understanding of AMR and its evolution.

The impact of the project will extend beyond academia on contributing national and international AMR policy and on public
understanding of AMR.

Research info

Research title
Occurrence, Sources and Prevention of Antimicrobial Resistance in West Africa – Following the flow of AMR genes between humans, animals and environment

Research timeline
1.3.2018 - 1.2.2000

Keywords
Antibiotics antimicrobial resistance (amr) clinical medicine microbiology

Region
Africa

Countries
Finland

Institution
University of Helsinki
Department of Microbiology
Helsinki, Finland

Funding instrument
Academy of Finland

Project budget
1-2 million euros

Head of research
Anu Kantele

Research team
Isidore Bonkoungou, Victorien Dougnon, Kaisa Haukka, Bourema Kouriba, Salla Sariola, Marko Virta

Partners
University of Abomey-Calavi (Benin), University of Ouaga (Burkina Faso), Centre d'infectiologie Charles Mérieux (Mali)

Contact information
Kaisa Haukka
kaisa.haukka@helsinki.fi

Record last updated
3.5.2019