European Commission issues Action Plan on antimicrobial resistance

November 22, 2011

Over the years, bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics, and these resistant bacteria can be transferred from animals to humans via the food chain or through direct contact. Since the 1990s, when antimicrobial resistance (AMR) was recognized as a serious threat to public health, the European Commission has launched various initiatives and actions. On Nov. 17, the European Commission issued a comprehensive Action Plan on AMR that includes 12 concrete actions to be implemented in close cooperation with the Member States.

“We need to take swift and determined action if we do not want to lose antimicrobial medicines as essential treatment against bacterial infections in both humans and animals. The 12 concrete actions for the next five years, that we present today, could help limit the spread of antimicrobial resistance and help develop new antimicrobial treatment. Their success requires joint efforts from the EU, the Member States, healthcare professionals, industry, farmers, and many others,” said John Dalli, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy.

EU-wide data published by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) on antibiotic resistance shows that resistance to last-line antibiotics is increasing in Europe. For example, resistance to pathogens that frequently cause pneumonia and urinary tract infections in hospitals is increasing across the EU and is now established in several countries.

The Action Plan sets out 12 concrete actions to:

  • Improve awareness on the appropriate use of antimicrobials.
  • Strengthen EU law on veterinary medicines and on medicated feed.
  • Introduce recommendations for prudent use of antimicrobials in veterinary medicine, including follow-up reports.
  • Strengthen infection prevention and control in hospitals, clinics, etc.
  • Introduce legal tools to tighten prevention and control of infections in animals in the new EU Animal Health Law.
  • Promote unprecedented collaboration to bring new antimicrobials to patients.
  • Promote efforts to analyze the need for new antibiotics in veterinary medicine.
  • Develop and/or strengthen multilateral and bilateral commitments for the prevention and control of AMR.
  • Strengthen surveillance systems on AMR and antimicrobial consumption in human medicines.
  • Strengthen surveillance systems on AMR and antimicrobial consumption in animal medicines.
  • Reinforce and co-ordinate research.
  • Improve communication on AMR to the public.

Press release