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PAR Foundation grants 3 MSEK to infection prevention among elderly

Augustina Frimpong and Peter Bergman

The Swedish non-profit PAR Foundation (The Foundation to Prevent Antibiotic Resistance) has granted funding to three different projects in Ghana, Portugal and Sweden.

This is the PAR Foundation’s first international grant call and in this call the focus is on infection prevention among elderly.

“We have identified infections among elderly as an important driver of antibiotic use, and which grows further as the proportion of elderly in the population increases. Meanwhile, surprisingly little resources go into this area,” says Cecilia Tilli, Secretary-General at PAR Foundation. “When speaking about building a sustainable society for the future the focus often turns to children and youth, but we also know that elderly is an increasing portion of the population. It is important that we build societies and healthcare systems that work well for elderly.”

A great impact

Peter Rothschild, chairman of PAR Foundation, was one of the initiators when the non-profit was founded in 2017. In the first years, PAR Foundation focused only on funding of Swedish projects.

“I am very happy that we have been able to get high-quality projects from countries where we think the results can be very useful and have a great impact,” says Peter Rothschild.

Pneumonia among elderly in Ghana

Augustina Frimpong, University of Ghana, receives one million SEK for an exploratory study on pneumonia among elderly in Ghana. Pneumonia is very common and one of the leading causes of death among elderly in developing countries, and patients are often treated with antibiotics. The aim is to develop evidence for effective preventive interventions, for example if vaccination programmes for pneumonia in Ghana should also target elderly persons. Today, the vaccination programme only includes children under five years of age.

“This is great news for us. This grant will provide us with the needed resources to investigate the spectrum of S. pneumoniae resistance to antibiotics in the Ghanaian elderly population. If we can identify strains of public health importance and combine them with host immune markers, that will help us to identify those at risk of disease. Hopefully we will be able to make recommendations on whether there is a need to introduce the pneumococcal vaccine in the Ghanaian elderly population,” says Augustina Frimpong.

Would higher doses of vitamin D be an effective way to prevent respiratory tract infections among elderly?

Peter Bergman, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, receives one million SEK for a clinical study to investigate if higher doses of vitamin D would be an effective way to prevent respiratory tract infections among elderly. Vitamin D in lower doses have long been recommended to prevent osteoporosis, but there are indications that a higher dose could also prevent respiratory tract infections.

“Respiratory tract infections are very common among elderly persons and are often treated with antibiotics. We know that supplementation of vitamin D can reduce the number of respiratory tract infections and antibiotic use among younger patients, but the evidence for supplementation in older patients is unclear. We therefore need to study this group specifically. We are very happy about this contribution from PAR Foundation which means that our planned study now can be executed,” says Peter Bergman.

Preventing urinary tract infections in Portuguese care facilities for elderly

PPCIRA (National Program for Infection and Antimicrobial Resistance Prevention), Portugal, receives one million SEK for a project to prevent urinary tract infections in Portuguese care facilities for elderly. In comparison to Sweden, Portugal has a high antibiotic consumption per capita, and urinary tract infection is one of the most common causes of antibiotic treatment among elderly. The project focuses on training and methods to achieve behaviour change among healthcare staff and relatives of the patients.

“We thank PAR Foundation for the support. This grant is very important for the Portuguese Program on Healthcare Associated Infections and Antimicrobial Resistance Prevention, as it will allow us to address a relevant problem – catheter associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI) – in a frail population, those living in long term care facilities. We aim to decrease the use of urinary catheters, minimize the incidence of CAUTI and its overdiagnosis, reduce antimicrobial consumption and, consequently, the emergence of antimicrobial resistance,” says Margarida Valente from the PPCIRA team.

Photo of Augustina Frimpong, University of Ghana, and Peter Bergman, Karolinska Institutet