Today the Council has adopted a recommendation aimed at stepping up EU action to combat antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in the fields of human health, animal health and the environment.
We cannot afford to ignore the deadly threat that drug-resistant microorganisms pose to human health. Tackling antimicrobial resistance has been a key priority for the Swedish presidency and today’s recommendation provides EU countries with the tools to monitor and reduce antimicrobial consumption.
Jakob Forssmed, Swedish Minister for Social Affairs and Public Health
The recommendation employs a ‘One Health’ approach to AMR, based on the fact that the health of humans, animals and the environment is intrinsically linked and that AMR can only be overcome through joint efforts taken across all three areas.
Overall, the Council’s recommendation seeks to encourage the prudent use of antimicrobials such as antibiotics in human and animal health through a series of voluntary measures, with the aim of reducing the risk that microorganisms will become resistant to medical intervention.
The proposed measures set out in the recommendation include:
- concrete targets to reduce antimicrobial use by 2030, including a 20% reduction in total human consumption of antibiotics and a 50% reduction in overall EU sales of antimicrobials used for farm animals and aquaculture
- strengthening of national action plans to help implement these targets and monitor the use of antibiotics at national level, including indicators to assess progress
- better surveillance of AMR and antimicrobial consumption (AMC) at all levels, including hospitals and long-term care facilities
- efforts to improve the health and welfare of food-producing animals to decrease the spread of infectious diseases in farming
- awareness raising among the public and professionals working in the human health and veterinary sectors, including training for health professionals and communication campaigns
Antimicrobials are medicines that are used to prevent and treat infections in humans, animals and plants. They include antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals and antiparasitics.
AMR occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change over time and no longer respond to antimicrobials. As a result, antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines are rendered ineffective and infections become increasingly difficult or even impossible to treat.
AMR causes more than 35 000 deaths every year in the European Economic Area. If it continues to rise, it could lead to an estimated 10 million deaths globally each year, as well as having a severe impact on the world’s economy.
The Commission published a proposal for a Council recommendation on AMR on 26 April 2023 as part of a package of measures aimed at reforming the EU’s pharmaceutical legislation.