MEP Interest Group on Antimicrobial Resistance Official Launch Event
Guest article by Ann Marie Borg, European Public Health Alliance (EPHA)
At the high-level launch of the MEP interest group on AMR which took place on 19 February 2020 at the European Parliament, a packed room of key actors committed to tackling Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) from a One Health approach, agreed that everyone must do their part in fighting AMR. The new MEP Interest Group, composed of fifteen MEPs from across the political spectrum, is the only AMR-dedicated group in the European Parliament. Driven by a comprehensive strategic work programme guiding its activities for the parliamentary term 2019-2024, the MEPs fight AMR Group will use its leverage to ensure that AMR stays high on the European policy and political agenda and effective actions are taken at European, national and local level to combat this global health threat. In her opening address, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, stressed that taking effective action to tackle AMR is one of the Commission’s key priorities in the area of health and she looks forward to working closely with the European Parliament to this effect in the coming years.
The powerful MEP Interest Group launch made a clear statement that all efforts in fighting AMR have a greater purpose, that of improving the health and well-being of all Europeans. AMR might appear invisible to the eye, but it is a real threat, affecting the lives of many. Musician Silviu Ciocanelli, a survivor of the Colectiv nightclub fire which happened in Bucharest in October 2015, shared a captivating account of the reality of living with AMR. He made an emotional plea for common EU efforts to be taken to protect Europeans NOW: "Please do all your best. We need your help to have better health systems in the part of the EU from where I come from, because ultimately, this is a Union.”
We were all humbled by Silviu’s moving yet empowering testimony, giving us hope that if we stay committed to fighting AMR and ensure that no EU country is left behind, we can save lives. Silviu expressed how even years after contracting highly resistant hospital-acquired infections, living with AMR remains a daily struggle. Bringing in the patient perspective in AMR policy discussions has not been a common occurrence to date but Silviu’s presence and personal account changed that and brought out the realities of AMR as a threat, whereby standard treatments, even a dental intervention, carry a risk. In his closing remarks, Professor Herman Goossens, also referred to patients as the most important stakeholders and encouraged patients like Silviu, to share their experiences of suffering from antibiotic resistant infections and raise awareness, while calling for patient organisations to continue to participate in AMR-related activities.
The launch event kicked-off the activities of the MEP Interest Group but this is only the beginning. The next initiative of the Interest Group will take place around the European Antibiotic Awareness Day in the Autumn. [Press Release]
AMR is complex, and no-one can tackle all aspects – that is why everyone needs to do their part. Patient organisations raise awareness of the correct use of medicines. We advocate for patient empowerment, as research shows shared decision-making reduces prescribing of antibiotics, and we call for more patient involvement in efforts to prevent healthcare-associated infections.
EPF is committed to fighting antimicrobial resistance, by engaging the patient community across the EU. We participate in the annual European Antibiotic Awareness Day and share information with our members. In 2018, we contributed to a statement and will continue to work together with EU and international institutions and agencies, such as EPHA, on this issue.