The role of whole genome sequencing in monitoring antimicrobial resistance: A biosafety and public health priority in the Arabian Peninsula

Majed F. Alghoribi*, Hanan H. Balkhy, Neil Woodford, Matthew Ellington

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The recent declaration by the United Nations to establish an interagency coordination group (IACG) on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) emphasises the global nature of the AMR threat. Rapid dissemination and spread of AMR is exacerbated by the movements of humans, animals, foods and materials. International monitoring and surveillance of AMR indicates to policy makers, regulators and auditors the magnitude of the problem and also informs appropriate and mindful interventions that will impact public health policy and mitigate AMR. Identifying the drivers of AMR requires a ‘one-health’ approach to capture cross-sectoral utilization, phenotypic and genetic data. Capacity building in diagnostic and reference laboratories is required for traditional phenotypic testing as well as newer technologies (e.g. whole genome sequencing, WGS), in order to enhance the detection, characterisation, tracking and surveillance of AMR. The Gulf Health Council (GHC) for the cooperation council states have developed national AMR plans and will standardise pathogen identification and susceptibility testing to gain useful, reliable and comparable data. Additional plans are to establish, for the region, a state-of-the-art ‘one-health’ WGS service to identify and examine emerging AMR issues as well as the associated healthcare and financial burden(s). Currently, there is a paucity of WGS based research for tackling AMR challenges in the GHC countries. In this article, we have considered the current surveillance landscape and the potential role of whole genome sequencing (WGS) for monitoring antimicrobial resistance in the Arabian Peninsula. We highlighted the importance of using WGS for monitoring AMR in these countries as there remains a dearth of microbial genomic data and studies from the GHC countries. Development of WGS-based AMR surveillance is required to identify the burden and prevalence of AMR in the GHC countries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)784-787
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Infection and Public Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by a grant from King Abdullah International Medical Research Center, King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018


  • Antibiotics
  • Clinical microbiology
  • Drug-resistant infections
  • Gulf Health Council (GHC)
  • Infection prevention and control
  • Public Health
  • Whole genome Sequencing


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