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European MPs call for urgent action against antimicrobial resistance

Ahead of World Antimicrobial Awareness Week, the EU Parliament hosted an event where members of the European Parliament (MEPs) joined with Japanese pharmaceutical company, Shionogi, the Active Citizenship Network and the MEPs Interest Group on ‘European Patients’ Rights and Cross-Border Healthcare’ to discuss antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in the EU and member states.

AMR has been marked as one of the top three priority health threats in the EU by the European Health Union, as calls for action increase.

In 2019, bacterial AMR was directly responsible for over one million deaths and was partly responsible for nearly five million deaths. It is estimated that AMR could lead to as many as ten million deaths each year by 2050, at a cost of $100tn to global economic output.

The difficulty lies in the reliance on antibiotics as a vital treatment involved in every aspect of modern healthcare, from common surgeries to chemotherapy and organ transplants. Without significant change and urgent action, a lack of effective antibiotics could make routine medical procedures dangerous, render more complex interventions and procedures impossible and impact the ability to respond to outbreaks of infectious diseases.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), has dubbed the healthcare issue a ‘slow tsunami that threatens to undo a century of medical progress.

The event at the European Parliament reinforced cautions made by the European Health Union, further highlighting the importance of supportive collaborations from pharmaceutical companies, stakeholders, and governments as a means of bringing about significant innovation and policy change on the topic of AMR.

Against the backdrop of the revision of the Pharmaceutical Legislation and the planned European Council Recommendations on AMR taking place in Q4 2022, the event brought together high-level European policymakers to discuss the development of new antibiotics and initiatives by national health authorities to fight AMR.

In addition, the event explored collaborative and governance models with the aim of executing better implementation of actions, as well as improving best practices for a more holistic AMR approach.

Mariano Votta, director of Active Citizenship Network, the EU branch of the Italian NGO Cittadinanzattiva, said: “The inclusion of the AMR within the work programme of the incoming Sweden Presidency of the Council of the EU and the prioritization of the topic by the European Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA) give the opportunity to advance policy action to improve stewardship, surveillance of resistance patterns across Europe and incentivize innovation.

“These actions should be fully integrated into One Health Strategies providing solutions for human, animal, and environmental health. The involvement of civil society and patient advocacy groups is also crucial in the development and implementation of AMR National Plans.”



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