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Joint efforts to enhance evidence-based policy making to stop antimicrobial resistance

“I may be stating the obvious, but it is worth reiterating – antimicrobials are an extremely valuable resource across a wide spectrum of sectors. Imagine for a moment how we would live in a world without antibiotics," commissioner Andriukaitis said.

Today, 23 November, as part of the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, a high-level meeting in Brussels will focus on the new EU One Health Action Plan to tackle the spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in the European Union and evidence-based policy making. The aim of the meeting is to support cooperation in the areas of health, agriculture and the environment in order to accelerate the implementation of intersectoral AMR actions at national, EU and global level.

The Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis will open the meeting along with the Secretary General of the Ministry of Rural Affairs Illar Lemetti, on behalf of the Estonian Presidency and the Minister for Health and Labour, Minister for Rural Affairs and Minister for the Environment. The results of the meeting will be summarised by Maris Jesse, the Deputy Secretary General on Health from the Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs.

Thanking Estonia for putting AMR on the agenda of the Council presidency, Commissioner Andriukaitis said “I may be stating the obvious, but it is worth reiterating – antimicrobials are an extremely valuable resource across a wide spectrum of sectors. Imagine for a moment how we would live in a world without antibiotics. We would no longer be able to use antibiotics for operations like bowel surgery, caesarean sections or joint replacements. We would not be able to treat people after traumatic accidents or use chemotherapy. Disease would spread rapidly in concentrated agriculture, with huge impacts on animal health and severe economic consequences.”

Andriukaitis added that it is precisely to prevent this unthinkable future that he presented a new EU Action Plan on AMR in June, focusing on key areas with the highest added value for EU countries, and including human, animal, food and environment related actions.

According to Illar Lemetti, we are faced with a situation where the misuse and overuse of antibiotics in the health and agriculture sectors are widespread and the emergence and spread of AMR has become a serious threat to human and animal health, both in Europe and globally. "Release of residues of antibiotics into the surrounding environment, such as drinking water, should also not be underestimated," said Lemetti. "It is not enough that each sector tries to do something on its own. We need explicit common goals, a common understanding of them, and a plan for achieving them. We also need a closer cooperation between these three sectors at national, European and global level.”

The meeting will address the implementation of the new EU One Health Action Plan to combat AMR and discuss key challenges and opportunities at different levels. The representatives from all three fields will discuss how to control the situation in health, agriculture and the environment and how to ensure the necessary research and evidence-based policy making for achieving success in tackling AMR. Discussions will also focus on the societal cost of AMR, cost-effective policies in the fight against AMR and essential next steps.

"The Estonian Presidency started to plan this meeting with the aim of developing a common understanding among the representatives of the three sectors about the possibilities for evidence-based and effective implementation of the new Action Plan," said Maris Jesse. “We need to work closely together with researchers, policy-makers and implementers of policies in all these fields so that our decisions and actions are based on facts and are operational at all levels."
AMR is responsible for 25 000 deaths every year in the European Union, with an economic loss of €1.5 billion. The implementation of control measures in the current situation will help to avoid further additional costs to avoid losses caused by AMR.

The meeting is organised in cooperation with the European Commission and the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

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