The phenomenon of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is increasingly threatening patient safety. AMR is the ability of microorganisms to resist antimicrobial treatments, especially antibiotics. AMR is a huge threat to human health globally as it causes failure in the treatment of infectious diseases. For healthcare systems and hospitals, it represents a huge burden leading to treatment failures ultimately causing prolonged hospital stays and a significant number of deaths.
Since 2011, the European Commission coordinated actions on this topic through an Action Plan on AMR, formally closed and evaluated in 2016. HOPE took part to the process of evaluation of the first Action Plan and informed the European Commission ahead of the launch of the One Health Action Plan to support Member States in the fight against Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) in 2017. In June 2017 the Commission adopted the new EU One Health Action Plan against AMR. It builds on the first Action Plan (2011-2016), its evaluation, to which HOPE took part, the feedback received on a European Commission on AMR and an open public consultation. HOPE took part in the Commission debate with Member States and Stakeholder representatives on the preparation of EU guidelines on prudent use of antimicrobials in human medicine.
HOPE also collaborates with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) to review activities carried out and material disseminated as part of the European Antibiotic Awareness Day (EAAD) campaign. Since 2008, the ECDC has been coordinating activities as part of EAAD, which takes place every year around 18 November. The campaign is aimed at raising awareness about the threat to public health of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and about prudent antibiotic use, key to stopping resistant bacteria developing. As part of 2017 campaign, the ECDC released a new toolkit addressed to professionals in hospitals and healthcare settings, including hospital managers and administrators. Over the past two years, HOPE collaborated with the ECDC in the creation of the key messages and communication materials included in the toolkit.
HOPE has joined the Joint Action on Antimicrobial Resistance and Healthcare Associated Infections (JAMRAI) which was launched on 1 September 2017. JAMRAI is a collaborative project built on existing works and initiatives by Member States as well as international organisations (OECD, ECDC, WHO Europe, OIE and FAO). INSERM (France) is responsible for overall coordination of the project, which involves 44 partners and 38 collaborating stakeholders. In March 2018, HOPE endorsed EPHA Joint Statement and Call to Action on AMR.
The own initiative report on “A European One Health Action Plan Against Antimicrobial Resistance” was adopted by the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) Committee of the European Parliament on 20 June 2018. The report stresses that the correct and prudent use of antimicrobials is essential to limiting the emergence of AMR and that developing national strategies to address AMR is essential.
On 15 November 2018, the European Commission implemented a new Eurobarometer on Antimicrobial Resistance.
Tackling AMR and the full implementation of the EU One Health Action Plan against AMR, have been identified as key health priorities of the 2019 – 2024 European Commission.
In June 2019, the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council released its conclusions on the next steps towards making the EU a best practice region in combatting antimicrobial resistance.
In January 2019, HOPE joined the Stakeholder Network on Antimicrobial Resistance and signed the Roadmap for Action against AMR. On 19 February 2019, HOPE took part in the kick-off meeting of the MEP Interest Group on AMR.
On 28 February 2020, the Council released the outcomes of the Finnish Presidency questionnaire to the Member States on Antimicrobial Resistance. 25 of 28 Member States (89%) provided responses to the questionnaire. The outcomes present mainly the National Action Plan (NAPs) and some good practices. Member States pronounce themselves mostly in favour of a strengthening of forums enabling the exchange of information and good practices. They are also up for an intensification of exchanges with the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
On 5 October 2020, the MEP Interest Group on AMR (which was launched in February 2020) released a letter to European Commission Vice-President Schinas and Commissioner Kyriakides calling for the Pharmaceutical Strategy to integrate more provisions related to fighting AMR.
On 19 November 2020, following the online campaign for the European Antibiotic Awareness Day led by the ECDC, HOPE released a Position Paper on Antimicrobial Resistance structured around three axes: (1) Foster the One Health Approach and involve civil society stakeholders, (2) Put prevention at the core of Antimicrobial Resistance policies, (3) Promote the development of new antimicrobials.
On 14 December 2020, the European Commission published its 5th progress report on the implementation of the European One Health Action Plan against Antimicrobial Resistance. The progress report shows that a number of AMR initiatives have been continued or put in place in recent months. For example, the Commission has adopted in the EU Farm to Fork Strategy a target aiming to reduce by 50% the overall EU sales of antimicrobials for farmed animals and in aquaculture by 2030. This objective will be supported by the implementation of the Regulations on Veterinary Medicinal Products and on Medicated Feed for which implemented and delegated acts are currently being drafted. Another of the main updates of the Action Plan includes the Commission Implementing Decision (EU) 2020/1729 on the monitoring and reporting of AMR in zoonotic and commensal bacteria. The recently adopted Pharmaceutical Strategy for Europe also flagged the fight against AMR as a key objective.
EU-JAMRAI released in January 2021 policy briefs presenting concrete actions and recommendations developed by the joint action to fight antimicrobial resistance in human and animals:
- Appropriate use of antibiotics in a One Health perspective
- The need to develop core elements at the European level on antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) and infection prevention and control (IPC)
- The need to develop indicators and targets for AMR action plans in the EU
- The need for a reinforced AMR One Health Network
- The urgent need to foster research on infection prevention and control to improve health security
- Incentivizing antibiotic access and innovation