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S&Ds urge swift and comprehensive measures to combat antimicrobial resistance

Date

01 Jun 2023

Sections

Health & Consumers

The European Parliament has voted on a resolution co-led by the S&D Group on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in response to the Commission's recommendation to the Council.

Antimicrobials, including antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals, and antiparasitics, are medicines used to prevent and treat infections in humans, animals, and plants. When overused, they create resistance, rendering bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites unresponsive to medicines. This makes infections harder to treat, increasing the risk of disease transmission, severe illness, and death.

AMR causes over 1.3 million deaths every year globally, with 35,000 deaths in the European Union alone, and these numbers are rapidly increasing. The World Health Organization recognises it as one of the top 10 global public health threats facing humanity. Therefore, the European Union must take action to prevent excessive use of antimicrobials and pharmaceutical waste in the environment, as these contribute to the proliferation of antimicrobial resistance.

Tiemo Wölken, S&D MEP and European Parliament's co-negotiator on the file in the subcommittee of public health, said:

"Today, the European Parliament sends a strong signal to the member states to be more ambitious in combating antimicrobial resistance and to maintain the level of ambition set by the Commission's recommendation, with ambitious national targets and proper implementation.

"Antimicrobial resistance can only be tackled through a ‘One Health’ approach and enhanced coordination at the EU and global level. We must closely examine current antimicrobial usage and consider restricting their use, particularly in the agricultural sector, to combat growing antimicrobial resistance. It is no longer justifiable to use certain last resort drugs for food production purposes. If antibiotics are not used prudently, we will fail to prevent AMR with dire consequences. Therefore, the EU needs a more exhaustive list of antibiotics specifically reserved for human use. Anything else would be playing with fire and human lives.

"Prevention of pharmaceutical waste in the environment is crucial, as it contributes to the proliferation of antimicrobial resistance. We must implement effective infection prevention and control measures. However, our primary focus should be on strengthening prevention measures, such as training and education on the prudent use of antibiotics, which is often overlooked.

"Research and development of novel antibiotics must receive further support, including investments in alternative treatments like bacteriophage products and other medical AMR countermeasures, such as increasing the use of rapid diagnostic tools."

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