Official Launch of CDC Antimicrobial Resistance Project

Assalomu aleykum, dobroye utro and good morning to everyone here.

It is a great honor to be part of the opening of this program and as I go through my welcoming remarks, you will hear many of the same themes that were just evoked by Doctor Saidaliev in what I will be saying.

It is a great honor to meet you, Doctor Saidaliev, and also to meet Doctor Abdushukurov, who is the head of the Research Institute for Epidemiology and I apologize for mispronouncing your name, but it was a pleasure to meet you, as well.

We are delighted, of course, to have our Director of the Centers for Disease Control, Almaty-based Daphne Moffett, and members of her team who work on this every day, including Shakinya who is our moderator today. So, thank you.

We have Roger Rodriguez, who is my representative on these kinds of issues in the Embassy – we are glad you are here todayand I am very pleased to see representatives from the World Health Organization who are involved in this work as well.

I won’t go over everything, but basically, I am very pleased to be here and to note that there is excellent cooperation among various partners because this is a global threat that we are facing. It is a health threat, not a security one, although health definitely has security elements in it.

So, on behalf of the U.S. Embassy I am very honored to be here to launch this special project on the prevention and control of antimicrobial resistance which is supported jointly by the Government of the United States and the Government of Uzbekistan.  The American partner in this very ambitious and important project is the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the Uzbekistan partner is the Research Institute of Epidemiology, Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.  And just before we came into the room, I was pleased to learn that this is really part of a longstanding trail of cooperation that goes back many, many years.  So, I am glad that it is continuing on an issue of this importance.

As Doctor Saidaliev said, antibiotics have been critical to public health since the discovery for many, many years.  Penicillin was discovered in 1928 and saved the lives of millions of people around the world.  Today, however, the emergence of drug resistant bacteria is unfortunately reversing the progress of the past eighty years, with drug choices for treatment of many bacterial infections becoming increasingly limited, expensive and, in some cases, nonexistent.

The loss of antibiotics that kill or inhibit the growth of bacteria means that we can no longer take for granted quick and reliable treatment of rare or even common bacterial infections, including bacterial pneumonias, foodborne illnesses, and healthcare-associated infections.  As more strains of bacteria become resistant to an ever larger number of antibiotics, we will also lose the benefits of a range of modern medical procedures -from hip replacements to organ transplants – whose safety depends on our ability to treat bacterial infections that may arise as post-surgical complications.  A simple operation could be transformed into a life threatening event.  Moreover, antibiotic resistance also threatens, as Doctor Saidaliev said, animal health, and also agriculture and the economy.

In response to this, on September 18, 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama issued an Executive Order directing our federal government to work domestically and internationally to detect, prevent, and control illnesses and death related to antibiotic-resistant infections.  He did this by implementing measures that reduce the emergence and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and help ensure the continued availability of effective therapeutics for the treatment of bacterial infections.  President Obama ordered the development of a National Action Plan that would identify the actions needed to combat antibiotic resistance.  The National Action Plan, which was issued earlier this year, provides a road map to guide other nations, and, of course, our own nation, in tackling this important problem and rallies public health, healthcare, and veterinary partners around a common goal of addressing urgent and serious drug resistant threats that affect people in the U.S. and around the world.

So, in this context, I am extremely pleased to recognize the strong efforts and commitment of the Government of Uzbekistan in identifying antimicrobial resistance as one of the country’s leading public health concerns and pledging to combat the rise of antibiotics in close coordination and cooperation with World Health Organization and the United States, that is the rise of antimicrobial resistance.

For the past two years, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have supported national efforts in building the capacity of the Ministry of Health by developing strategies for identifying bacterial sensitivity to antibiotics and the rational use of antimicrobials among healthcare facilities and community.

The recently established Cooperative Agreement between the Centers for Disease Control and the leading Ministry of Health institution in combating infectious diseases, the Research Institute of Epidemiology, Microbiology and Infectious Disease, will enable both partners to receive, for the first time, evidence-based data on the prevalence of antimicrobial resistance in Uzbekistan, and make substantial progress in advancing antimicrobial resistance efforts in the country.  Such efforts will improve the lives of Uzbeks and others in the region and reduce the incidence of these serious drug-resistant threats.

Today we celebrate a commitment of two nations and an absolutely extraordinary opportunity to improve the health and welfare of Uzbeks and all people through sustained, coordinated and complementary efforts in combating infectious disease and supporting prevention and control programs.

And I would like you to know that I am very pleased that the World Health Organization is launching a complementary project because I think it is extremely important for us to be working on many levels: the country level, the international cooperation level, the global level, to think about the standards and resources and trends that only an organization of the reach of the World Health Organization can bring.

Jointly combating antimicrobial resistance gives us the opportunity to learn from each other and share experiences to strengthen efforts in a united fight against antimicrobial resistance.

You will hear from Daphne Moffett, our regional CDC director, who will add further information on our joint goals with Uzbek and international partners.

So, once again, let me thank you for your attention, thank you for joining this effort.  I value your continued dedication, partnership and commitment to detect, to stop, and prevent the emergence and spread of drug resistant bacteria through this and other efforts, and I wish you great success in this important endeavor.

Thank you very much.