In Korea, several ministries and agencies, including the Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT), Ministry of Health and Welfare, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and Korean Center for Disease Control (KCDC), are responsible for the policies and research on antimicrobial resistance (AMR). In 2017, the AMR related research fund in Korea reached 65 million euros. The National Research Foundation (NRF) of Korea, organizing and funding basic and applied research projects on behalf of the Ministry of Science and ICT of the Korean government is therefore seen to represent the nation in international scientific and policy initiatives such as the JPIAMR.
In 2016, principal ministries and agencies responsible for AMR put together the National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance (2016-2020) and proposed the following goals:
- Promote the prudent use of antimicrobial medicines
- Enforce quality evaluation programs of antibiotic use in health care
- Develop and distribute prescription guidelines on antibiotic use
- Enhance appropriate antibiotic use in the animal sector
- Prevent the spread of antimicrobial resistance
- Improve institutional policies regarding infection prevention and control
- Enable timely determination of patients infected with resistant pathogens
- Strengthen the surveillance system
- Improve and support antimicrobial resistance surveillance in hospitals and on community levels
- Improve surveillance of antibiotic consumption
- Strengthen the surveillance system
- Improve public awareness
- Strengthen research and development
- Enhance international collaboration
To pursue these goals, the One-Health concept is applied. The surveillance system has far reaching impacts; it involves agriculture and environment sectors. Antimicrobial reagents for animals, requiring veterinary prescription, are being expanded, and efforts are being made to understand the human-animal-environment connection of AMR. Information on new cases are shared not only among hospitals, but also among all involved stakeholders via a standing multi-agency network system. Korea is and will be encouraging cooperation on an international level. The nation is an active member of the World Health Organization-led effort known as the Global Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System. Korea also partakes in building the data base for AMR in animals, organized by the OIE-World Organization for Animal Health. At the research front, various projects concerning the genomic characterization of resistant strains, development of a vaccine for resistant Staphylococcus strains and modernization of livestock and the poultry management system have been initiated by various government agencies.
NRF and MSIT aim to fill the void in strategic research and development and in promotion of international scientific cooperation. To this end, NRF has mapped out a research program in developing new ways to fight AMR. A total nearing 14 million euros, to be dispensed over a period of 6 years, has been committed to this research program. About half of the resources will be devoted to the understanding of basic mechanisms of AMR, including but not limited to the following topics: host-microbe and/or microbe-microbe interactions; expression and function of virulence factors; and novel genes and signal transduction systems. The other half will be used to support research for development of new antimicrobial reagents, the topics for which are as follows: the high-throughput screen, new class of active chemicals, and novel bio-agents such as antibodies and phages.
All projects led by independent investigators will be organized into a working network, which in turn will serve as the representative of NRF and MSIT in carrying out the membership role in JPIAMR. To facilitate this activity, the Institute for Antimicrobial Resistance Research and Therapeutics has been launched at Sungkyunkwan University (IAMRT-SKKU). This center will play a related yet an independent role distinct from that of the Infectious Disease Center within KCDC, or the AMR Center within the Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency, both of which are more focused on epidemiological issues. A key assignment for IAMRT-SKKU is conveying to and from international communities working on AMR about important research outputs and policy shifts. Another key assignment of the center will be bringing in all relevant research activities carried out by various ministries and agencies under one umbrella, subsequently leading to coordination not solely on a domestic level but on an international one.
National AMR research program and activities
AMR Research program
- Establishment of the Government-wide One Health AMR Plan (multi-institutional collaborative project) (2019-2023)
- Assessment of antibiotic usage and appropriateness;
- Development of new AMR detection method
- Mechanism and characteristics of AMR in human-animal-environment; MR prevention and development of new treatment strategy
- Role of different ministries involved in different sectors of this program:
- Korean Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) and Mistry of Health and Welfare (MoHW): Hospital and local
- National Research Foundation (NRF) and Ministry of Science (MSIT) and ICT: Detection and prevention of AMR
- Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA): Livestock and pets
- Ministry of Environment (ME): River, Wastewater and Environment
- Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries (MOF): Fisheries
- Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS): Livestock and fishery product
- Government-wide R&D Fund project for infectious disease research (GFID)
National AMR research calls
- Identification of the mechanism of antibiotic resistance and development of technology to suppress the occurrence of resistance: Four-year project (2020-2023), 3.5 billion Korean Won
- Advancement of the international network for securing resources for high-rick infectious diseases: Five-year project (2020- 2024), 4.33 billion Korean Won
- Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness: Two-year project (2020-2021), 0.45 billion Korean Won
- Detection and prevention of animal infectious disease: supports the studies on the avian influenza and food and mouth disease (mechanism studies, developments of vaccine, disinfectant, and diagnostic tools).
- GFID Call 2019: detection, prevention and surveillance studies of infectious disease at the national level
- Information on the NRF-funded AMR research projects can be found at IAMRT-SKKU: http://iamrt.skku.edu/iamrt/index.jsp
Activities on AMR actions at national level
- Plan for establishing the National Research Institute for Infectious Disease under the Korean Center for Disease Control (KCDC) was approved (*KCDC will be promoted to the vice-minister’s level)
National action plans
• The Korean national action plan on antimicrobial resistance (2016-2020)
• The new Korean action plan for containment of antimicrobial resistance is under preparation.
Management Board representatives
- Kyeong Kyu Kim, Sungkyunkwan University
- Seon-Won Kim, National Research Foundation of Korea