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EPHA issued this statement on 15 November 2017 ahead of the 10th European Antibiotic Awareness Day on 18th November


EPHA has advocated strongly for the release of the new EU Action Plan against AMR. We welcome that it reinforces the One Health approach. However, we believe more needs to be done to develop clear targets at many levels and resources to provide the tools to tackle the threat. In short, the Action Plan lacks teeth.

It’s very encouraging that strong links are being established between the Commission and its Agencies, WHO. OECD, G7/G20, World Bank, OIE, FAO, leading foundations, civil society and industry, and between the MS as part of the Joint Action on AMR and the One Health Network. Not only do we have the scientific consensus of the scale and urgency of the issue, the international political will is increasing and we now also have the venues to develop a fitting policy response. In particular, it still notably lacks measures on the environmental dimension – which the evaluation of the previous Action Plan highlighted as a weak point.

EPHA commissioned a professor of law to survey the legal levers at European level that could be used to develop a strong One Health approach, which is available on the AMR section of the EPHA website. Regrettably these have been largely overlooked. All the relevant policies – human medicine, animal health and agriculture, environment, global health, trade consumer policy, research, and investment in health systems, etc. – still need to be addressed in a coherent way.

Civil society can and must be partners in delivery of the Action plan and policy response to AMR. We will also highlight this in a Joint Call to Action on AMR to be launched at the Health Policy Platform on 27 Nov. In line with this year’s EAAD theme, we must not forget the importance of healthcare professionals – whether doctors, nurses, pharmacists, other professions or students – in making change happen, and their role in shaping people’s behaviours.

Our message for 2017 is that, despite the many remarkable national, European and international initiatives, we need to put an end to the “Business as Usual” inertia, which could prevail if activities are taking place without coordination, binding policy measures and appropriate resources. While further research and new innovation are vital, it’s even more crucial now to reduce the threat from AMR via prudent use and sustainable production of today’s antibiotics.

Europe plays a key role in this: in many ways Europe already is a Best Practice Region – but also a Worst Practice region, with massive differences in consumption and prevalence between countries and even between regions within counties. A number of MS have put into practice successful reduction strategies, we need to make sure that these best practices can be copied elsewhere. Dedicated European funding is crucial: there is no better example of EU added value: no country can defy AMR alone, it’s in everyone’s interest to invest in curbing thiscross-border health threat.

We welcome the recent list of harmonised outcome indicators released by ECDC/EFSA/EMA as the basis for future ambitious targets and benchmarking mechanisms across Europe, and to oblige more comprehensive data collection in all relevant domains.

Finally, tackling AMR is indispensable to achieving the SDGs. In fact, AMR would derail not only 6 of the targets under SDG3, but also targets to end poverty, provide sustainable food and tackle hunger, protect the environment and is of vital importance to SDG16 on building strong institutions and participation and – most especially – SDG17 on policy coherence. In short, we cannot hope to create the sustainable future we want without tackling AMR.

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