Health First Europe and the European Patient Group on Antimicrobial Resistance welcome the opportunity to contribute to the Commission’s Call for Evidence.
The AMR Patient Group includes 16 national patient associations from across Europe. The Group is united to empower European citizens & patients to speak with one voice when sharing personal and group insights and experiences regarding the real-world impact of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). It is now more urgent than ever to step up actions to prevent HAIs and AMR-related development throughout the patient journey.
In line with our 2021 Declaration, we call upon European policymakers and national governments to urgently commit to a full range of interventions and to consider including the following action points in their upcoming Recommendation to have a common approach across Member States:
- Increase awareness and understanding of AMR and HAIs and stimulate debate on public health challenges through effective communication, education and training.
- Establish and promote clear governance arrangements at the local, national, and European levels to ensure leadership, engagement, accountability and coordination of actions to combat AMR and HAIs.
- Improve infection prevention and control measures across human health and animal care settings to help prevent infections and the spread of AMR. A One-Health approach to AMR is the only way forward, as interrelated dynamics drive AMR in human, animal and environmental health.
- Put in place and monitor national targets for the surveillance of antibiotic use in human and animal health, as well as infection surveillance standards at the European level.
- Promote equitable access to appropriate treatments in primary and secondary care settings.
- Implement antibiotic stewardship programmes in primary and secondary care settings with active engagement of patients as well as communicate infection risk, rates and prevention measures in a transparent manner. This would empower patients by involving them in the fight against AMR.
- Invest in and promote the use of medical technologies to prevent AMR and HAIs, leading to better patient outcomes and generating cost savings for hospitals, health systems and society.
- Accurate diagnosing through testing and digital technologies at the point of care would help promote an optimal prescription and sustainable use of antibiotics. As an example, there is clear evidence of over-prescription of antibiotics for respiratory tract infections, even though viruses cause 90% of them. Existing new technologies can provide test results in only a few minutes at the point of care. Wider use of such technologies would significantly reduce the problem of antibiotic misuse.
- The annual extra healthcare costs and productivity losses due to multidrug-resistant bacteria amount to 1.5 billion euros. Medical technologies can help reduce costs and increase patient safety.
- Support the creation and promotion of awareness-raising activities to disseminate recent statistics and patient experiences. This would promote behavioural change by healthcare professionals and patients towards a more prudent use of antibiotics.
The COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the need to understand the complex connections between bacterial and viral infections. AMR will likely increase through the heavy use of antibiotics in COVID-19 patient treatment. Hence, it is essential to diagnose, encourage more responsible behaviour, and promote the optimal prescription and sustainable use of antibiotics. As a result, there will be stronger preparedness for our healthcare systems and timely responses to this public health challenge.