Skip to content Accessibility statement

Combating global antimicrobial resistance

Posted on 2 February 2017

Academics at the University of York are to undertake a major study looking at the social and economic factors behind global antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and help develop policies to combat the problem.

The three-year project is being co-led by Sri Lanka's Director of Tertiary Care, Dr Suranga Dolamulla, as part of a Wellcome Trust Research Award in the Medical Humanities for Health Professionals.

The rise of AMR has been recognized as one of today’s global challenges alongside food security and climate change.

The study will focus on how the “free and universal distribution” of antibiotics ended up becoming a prime driver of the AMR problem.

Financial model

Dr Dolamulla, who will register for a PhD and be based in the University’s Department of History, will study the political, economic and social bases of the expansion of primary health care, and the spread of “essential antibiotics” through universal health coverage.

He will also look at the interactions between Sri Lankan government agencies and WHO offices and departments, and how taxation and regulation impacted on the use of these drugs across the country.

Dr Dolamulla’s work will help frame a financial model for the equitable and effective deployment of antibiotics in Sri Lanka.

Global threat

His findings will also be of relevance to countries that are members of the WHO Regional Office for South East Asia and other developing countries.

Co-lead Professor Sanjoy Bhattacharya, Director at the Centre for Global Health Histories (CGHH) at York said: “Antimicrobial resistance is a global threat; only an inclusive, inter-sectoral and culturally sensitive approach can help us counter it.

“What the world needs is solutions that recognise and engage with wide-ranging political, social and economic contexts, and adaptable policies that cope with a host of cultural and administrative differences.

“Suranga's work is significant precisely as it will assess policy critically and in long-term perspective, and propose sets of indicators and strategies that can be changed to fit the disparate needs after transparent discussion and debate.”


Experts say that without urgent action it is conceivable that simple infections could soon become entirely untreatable with existing drugs.

The problem has been caused by over-use of antimicrobial medicines for humans, animals and agriculture.

Further information:

  • Dr Dolamulla will be working with Professor Sanjoy Bhattacharya on research, policy advocacy and public engagement over a period of three years. During his stay at the University of York, Dr Dolamulla will also register for an inter-disciplinary PhD, which will be co-supervised by Professor Bhattacharya and Professor Tim Doran (Health Sciences).

Explore more news

Media enquiries

Alistair Keely
Head of Media Relations

Tel: +44 (0)1904 322153