The misuse of antibiotics is eroding their efficacy and leading to the spread of highly resistant bacteria, to the extent that it has become a threat to humankind.
Today, the environment and health committee in the European Parliament unanimously backed S&D MEP Karin Kadenbach’s report calling for better EU coordination and more funding to fight antimicrobial resistance*.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) estimates that around four million patients acquire health-care associated infections each year in the EU, killing 37 000 people.
Karin Kadenbach said:
“If nothing is done, antimicrobial resistance might cause more deaths than cancer by 2050. We have to start by looking at the whole circle, because the health of people and animals is interconnected. Diseases are transmitted from people to animals and vice-versa, and that is why we support the holistic approach of the ‘One Health’ initiative.
“EU member states handle this problem in different ways, so we ask the Commission to consider mandatory routine collection and the submission of monitoring data at EU level and to establish indictors to measure progress in the fight against antimicrobial resistance.
“We also urge the Commission to expand the role and funding of the ECDC so that it is better prepared against antimicrobial resistance.”
Miriam Dalli MEP, S&D spokesperson on environment and health, said:
“Countless lives have been saved over the years thanks to the use of antibiotics. At the same time, because of their misuse leading to microbial resistance, it has become increasingly difficult to treat bacterial infections. We even risk the return of a ‘pre-antibiotics/penicillin’ age, which would mean that previously incurable illnesses would once again become fatal.
“The ‘One Health’ initiative would ensure better coordination in public health and veterinary services. Together, at the EU level, we must tackle the misuse and overuse of antibiotics, both in what is prescribed to humans as well as in animal treatment. Equally important is to look at the improper disposal of unused medicines, which many a time end up in the groundwater posing a threat to our health.”
* Note to the editors
‘Antimicrobial resistance’ is the resistance to drugs of infections which are triggered not only by bacteria but also by other microbes such as parasites, viruses and fungi.