Tackling the growing burden of antimicrobial resistance in Europe requires a more urgent, co-ordinated approach with dedicated political actions and resources, according to a commentary in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.
Antimicrobial resistance is one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century but the high heterogeneity of surveillance data and the paucity of estimates on its societal effects substantially underestimate the public health burden, the article authors stated.
They cited a new study that shows that the estimated burden of infections with antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the EU and EEA has increased since 2007, and is substantial compared to other infectious diseases, causing an estimated 33,110 deaths annually.
While the authors acknowledge that tackling antimicrobial resistance is complex and various international stakeholders have long worked to reduce this public health burden, “the extension and severity of the current situation cannot be solved without a more centralised global approach and decisive role of the European Parliament.”
This approach could be achieved through different legal mechanisms, such as clearly defined standards for antibiotic usage in hospitals and community; establishing an alert zone (eg, critical rate of resistance at which urgent actions are needed at country level) for resistance to specific antibiotics in invasive infections; setting a mandatory minimum gold standard for infection control measures; defining compulsory medical school curricula for infection control and antibiotic stewardship; and setting up appropriate indicators to monitor the implementation and effectiveness of interventions.
Annual targets in national plans should be globally discussed, interconnected, and co-ordinated, they added, and when countries do not respect agreed targets, action should be taken.
This approach follows the example of the European Parliament actions to successfully tackle air pollution and reduce the related public health burden, the article authors said.
European Antibiotic Awareness Day took place on 18 November.