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Council Conclusions provide blueprint for advancing European collaboration on AMR

21 June 2016
by epha -- last modified 21 June 2016

Tackling a problem as complex as drug-resistant infections requires a high level of coordination. Yet, until now, Europe’s added value as a facilitator of effective intersectoral action against antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has been ill-defined.


Therefore, EPHA welcomes the progress made under the Dutch Presidency, which culminates in today's Council Conclusions on the next steps under a One Health approach to combat Antimicrobial Resistance. They offer a practical design of how the EU Member States can work together more effectively, e.g. by sharing best practices. Notably, a proposed Network on AMR shall join up actors from the human, veterinary and environmental sectors to keep an eye on the development and implementation of national action plans and the revision of the EU Action Plan. EPHA is also pleased that the Conclusions call for adopting a public health perspective on AMR. For example, the strategic research agendas of existing European R&D initiatives on new antibiotics and diagnostics shall be aligned with each other and their priorities shall be set based on societal needs. Alternative treatment and prevention options are encouraged. The national action plans shall include education programmes and targeted campaigns aimed at consumers and professionals. 

This does however not mean that the proposed actions will be sufficient. EPHA's own Recommendations illustrate that Europe's role could be more ambitious, e.g. by introducing binding targets linked to SMART formulated actions to curtail the use of antimicrobials in humans and animals, reduce infections, and combat resistance in all domains. Moreover, the Commission can play an important role in defining the characteristics of a good surveillance system and the types of data to be collected. Crucially, financial incentives must be removed for individuals and institutions to use antimicrobials gratuitously.

The final report of the UK Review on AMR argues that investments in tackling AMR are tiny compared to the cost of inaction. EPHA Policy Manager Sascha Marschang commented that 'While the Council Conclusions take a leap in the right direction, they risk not being concrete enough for the scale and urgency of the AMR threat. If actions are not strengthened soon, the UK Review states that by 2050, every year 10 million people are expected to lose their lives. Without adequate funding support it is difficult for lagging Member States to reverse current trends on antibiotic consumption and drug-resistant infections. Data are incomplete in many countries and laboratory capacities are weak. We urgently need to address unnecessary uses and supply, and convert individuals from all sectors into antimicrobial stewards'.

It remains to be seen whether the Conclusions are solid enough to kick the Commission and the Member States into action. Mr Marschang continued: 'EPHA hopes that the work accomplished under the Dutch Presidency will stimulate stronger legislation on AMR in all Member States, and a new business model for antimicrobials that de-links price from volume and recognises them as a public good. Europe must also strive to play a lead role globally: we simply cannot afford to let AMR simmer on the back burner.'

The European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) is a change agent – Europe's leading NGO advocating for better health. It is a dynamic member-led organisation, made up of public health NGOs, patient groups, health professionals, and disease groups working together to improve health and strengthen the voice of public health in Europe.

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EPHA (Aisbl) is the European Platform bringing together public health organisations representing health professionals, patients groups, health promotion and disease specific NGOs, academic groupings and other health associations.

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