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Pfizer and Wellcome Launch Surveillance Programme to Combat Growing Threat of Antimicrobial Resistance in Sub-Saharan Africa

  • New partnership in Ghana, Kenya, Malawi and Uganda will provide governments and public health community with critical decision-making information to help address AMR
  • Antimicrobial resistance is a leading global health challenge1 that requires urgent action to ensure a safer world for everyone, everywhere
  • Effective surveillance and timely data feedback are critical for infection prevention and control programmes, and informing appropriate use of anti-infectives


Pfizer and Wellcome has announced the launch of a multi-year, public-private research collaboration with the governments of Ghana, Kenya, Malawi and Uganda to track resistance patterns and better understand the burden of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) on patients living in low- and middle-income countries.

This first-of-its kind partnership – known as Surveillance Partnership to Improve Data for Action on Antimicrobial Resistance (SPIDAAR) - will provide governments and health authorities with comprehensive data in four sub-Saharan African countries where there is a high burden of infectious diseases, insufficient data and lack of capacity to implement critically needed infection prevention and control programmes.

“Drug-resistant infections are a huge global health threat, undermining advances in medicine and reversing health progress in countries like Ghana, Kenya, Malawi and Uganda over the last 20 years,” said Gemma Buckland Merrett, Ph.D., Science Lead, Drug-Resistant Infections, Wellcome.

“Only through effective surveillance in hospitals and all healthcare settings can we gather the information essential to understand and track these dangerous infections, stop the spread, and protect patients. This is a complex global health problem which needs government, industry, and philanthropy working together, pooling resources and expertise, to allow health authorities and policymakers to make changes needed to prevent untreatable bacterial infections from claiming millions of lives.”

As recently as 2017, nearly half (43%) of the countries on the African continent did not have available AMR data.2

Recent estimates project that mortality rates due to AMR in Africa could be nearly ten times that of North America and Europe by 20503 and that the economic impact could also be disproportionate, reducing gross domestic product (GDP) in low-income economies by as much as 5.6%.4

This partnership builds on Pfizer’s longstanding work in the area of antimicrobial surveillance and infectious diseases, to help create meaningful and sustainable solutions that strive to address today’s biggest health challenges and protect the world’s most vulnerable people. Expanding on Pfizer’s existing ATLAS surveillance platform, the SPIDAAR program will offer transparent and open access to critically important data in the region, which we hope will enable countries in sub-Saharan Africa to better prepare for and respond to the serious and growing public health challenge of antimicrobial resistance."

Pol Vandenbroucke, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, Pfizer Hospital Business


Timely data and effective surveillance are critical for identifying and tracking the emerging spread of resistant infections, building infection prevention and control programmes and informing appropriate treatment to improve patient care. SPIDAAR will leverage the capabilities of Pfizer’s existing Antimicrobial Testing Leadership and Surveillance (ATLAS) platform to support implementation of the countries’ National Action Plans for AMR as specified by the World Health Organization (WHO).5,6

“Without a robust surveillance system, healthcare providers in sub-Saharan Africa are forced to use generalised guidelines to make prescribing decisions, which may not reflect trends in a given hospital or community,” said Charles Mwansambo, M.D., Chief of Health Services, Ministry of Health, Government of Malawi. “This programme will provide us with real-world data on which drug resistance patterns are emerging and where, enabling front-line healthcare providers and health authorities to more successfully treat patients while preserving the effectiveness of medicines to manage infectious diseases.”

Antimicrobial resistance occurs when bacteria change in response to the use of antibacterials, making the treatments ineffective against the treatment of bacterial infections. A growing problem worldwide, it is becoming more difficult to treat common infections such as pneumonia, tuberculosis and salmonellosis.7 This can lead to longer hospital stays, higher medical costs and increased mortality.8


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Planning for SPIDAAR began in July 2019 with government teams to identify health facilities across all four countries. The next phase of the partnership will initiate a surveillance programme at the selected hospitals, where clinical isolates will be collected from infected hospitalised patients, identified, and tested for antimicrobial susceptibility. The confirmed culture will then be compared to treatment selected and prescribing guidelines.

The SPIDAAR programme includes a separate, prospective real-world data study that will be conducted in each of the four sub-Saharan countries to assess antimicrobial resistance rates as well as clinical and associated costs among patients with hospital-acquired infections. The partnership provides additional healthcare capacity building through advanced laboratory technique training for national and local laboratory teams.

Programme data will be made available on Pfizer’s open-source ATLAS database as well as on Wellcome’s AMR Register. Created more than 15 years ago, ATLAS is the only industry-led, public-access platform that includes both antifungal and antibiotic resistance data. Today, this includes more than 685,000 bacterial and fungal isolates from 900-plus sites across more than 80 countries worldwide. The database includes nine of the 13 WHO priority pathogens that are considered the greatest threat to human life.9,10


About Wellcome

Wellcome exists to improve health by helping great ideas to thrive. We support researchers, we take on big health challenges, we campaign for better science, and we help everyone get involved with science and health research. We are a politically and financially independent foundation. To find out more about our work on drug-resistant infections, click here.


About Pfizer: Breakthroughs that change patients’ lives

At Pfizer, we apply science and our global resources to bring therapies to people that extend and significantly improve their lives. We strive to set the standard for quality, safety and value in the discovery, development and manufacture of health care products, including innovative medicines and vaccines. Every day, Pfizer colleagues work across developed and emerging markets to advance wellness, prevention, treatments and cures that challenge the most feared diseases of our time. Consistent with our responsibility as one of the world's premier innovative biopharmaceutical companies, we collaborate with health care providers, governments and local communities to support and expand access to reliable, affordable health care around the world. For more than 150 years, we have worked to make a difference for all who rely on us.

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Media Relations:
Pfizer: Francesca Russo
+44 (0) 7920 548118
[email protected]

Wellcome: Maggie Stratton
[email protected]



  1. 2020. Ten Health Issues WHO Will Tackle This Year. [online] Available at: < [Accessed 25 June 2020].
  2. Tadesse, B., Ashley, E., Ongarello, S., Havumaki, J., Wijegoonewardena, M., González, I. and Dittrich, S., 2017. Antimicrobial resistance in Africa: a systematic review. BMC Infectious Diseases, 17(1).
  3. 2020. [online] Available at: < [Accessed 25 June 2020].
  4. World Bank Group. 2020. [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 June 2020].
  5. Essack, S., Desta, A., Abotsi, R. and Agoba, E., 2016. Antimicrobial resistance in the WHO African region: current status and roadmap for action. Journal of Public Health, p.fdw015.
  6. Bernabé, K., Langendorf, C., Ford, N., Ronat, J. and Murphy, R., 2017. Antimicrobial resistance in West Africa: a systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, 50(5), pp.629-639.
  7. 2020. Antibiotic Resistance. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 25 June 2020].
  8. Dadgostar, P., 2019. Antimicrobial Resistance: Implications and Costs<. Infection and Drug Resistance, Volume 12, pp.3903-3910.
  9. Pfizer data on file.
  10. 2020. WHO Publishes List Of Bacteria For Which New Antibiotics Are Urgently Needed. [online] Available at: < [Accessed 25 June 2020].


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PP-PFE-GBR-2763 / July 2020