Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) represents a global health threat, which continues to worsen, despite the emerging realisation of the severity and magnitude of this problem. Furthermore, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has seen an increase in the use of antibiotics, a lack of antimicrobial stewardship, and capacity challenges in terms of syndromic testing, thus having the unintended consequence of AMR spreading further, particularly in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), but also across Europe. The European Commission’s new Pharmaceutical Strategy for Europe proposes a series of actions that are either directly aimed at combating AMR or that are relevant in the fight against AMR. These proposed initiatives are a step in the right direction, which ought to be celebrated. Nevertheless, their scope and ambition remain to be determined and monitored.
In response, EPHA has published a position paper, endorsed with 19 other organisations, including civil society and business associations. All signatories are members of the AMR Stakeholder Network and committed to the One Health approach in tackling AMR.
This paper puts forward recommendations that should ensure that the vision laid out in the Pharmaceutical Strategy is turned into reality and concrete actions, with sound monitoring of the ways in which they contribute towards combating this global health threat.
The 6 recommendations of this position paper are:
- Empower and bring together all health professionals.
- Explore new business models, better fit for the antimicrobial market and antimicrobial management.
- Reduce dependence on antibiotics through consumption targets, prevention activities, research into non-antibiotic options and practices.
- Strengthen institutions and clarify the role of Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA).
- Walk the talk on environmentally sustainable antibiotics.
- Explore the role of health promotion and prevention, and patient resilience as a strategy of prevention.
The Pharmaceutical Strategy, shaped by the challenges revealed by COVID-19, should play a crucial role in a European post-pandemic architecture that is more resilient and better prepared to tackle global health threats, of which AMR is a prime example.