On the 6-7 March, the Swedish EU presidency hosted a high-level meeting on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in Stockholm. Experts and policymakers from the European commission and the EU’s member states discussed the challenge in antibiotic research and development and how the EU can support global efforts to address AMR more effectively.
More than 140 high-level European and international delegates joined the meeting, which was opened with key note speeches from Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Victoria, Jakob Forssmed, Minister for Social Affairs and Public Health, Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health, Sophie Løhde, the Danish Minister for Health, and Dr Hans Kluge, Food Safety and WHO Regional Director for Europe.
Expert meeting on Research and Development
Preceding the High-level meeting, an expert session with the title “Sustainable access to existing – and stimulation of development of new antibiotics” was held for EU member state experts. ReAct supported the Swedish Ministry of Health in the organisation of this, and participated in the discussions, where details of an end-to-end approach to antibiotic Research & Development (R&D) and access was discussed including what elements of such an approach could be done at EU level. The outcomes where captured and shared during the second day as introduction to the high-level panel on antibiotic research and development.
High level meeting panels
On the second day ReAct’s Founder and Senior Advisor, Professor Otto Cars, was invited to give an introductory speech to the first high-level panel discussing the EU’s global role in addressing antimicrobial resistance. In his speech Otto Cars provided the panelists with his vision for how the 2024 UN High Level Meeting on AMR could be a milestone in the global response to antibiotic resistance.
On the panel was:
- Dr. Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe
- Dr. Chris Fearne, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health, Malta, Vice Chair One Health Global Leaders Group on AMR
- Dr. Ahmed Ogwell Ouma, Acting Director, Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC)
- Marjolijn Sonnema, Vice Minister, Director General for Public Health at Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports, Netherlands.
- Dr. Maria Jesus Lamas Díaz, Executive Director, Spanish Agency for Medicines and Medical Devices, Spain
Professor Otto Cars says:
“This meeting stood out for me because so many participants expressed concern that we are truly running out of time. The sense of urgency in the room was tangible. I left the meeting feeling that political prioritisation of antibiotic resistance is growing quickly now, and that global financing for sustainable access to effective antibiotics – including for implementation of National Action plans – may in fact be underway.”
The second high-level panel focused on antibiotic Research & Development and was introduced by Dr. Malin Grape, AMR Ambassador for Sweden, who reported back on the outcomes from the expert meeting the day before.
On this panel was:
- Jacob Forssmed, Swedish Minister of Health
- Sandra Gallina, Director General, Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE)
- Dr. Ahmed Ogwell Ouma, Acting Director, Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and
- Dr. Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe
The discussions covered the European Commission’s proposal for a transferable exclusivity voucher for antibiotic R&D, other types of push and pull incentives incl. milestone prizes, the role of HERA in antibiotic Research & Development, local productions including in Africa, as well as the need for new diagnostic tools.
Helle Aagaard, Deputy Director ReAct Europe, says:
“It was encouraging to see experts and policy makers discuss how the EU can take an end-to-end approach to antibiotic Research & Development, and how the goal of sustainable access to effective antibiotics was placed at the core of these discussions. Going forward it is important that this discussion continues and ensure that the sense of urgency does not lead to half-baked and ineffective solutions such as the voucher“.
ReAct participated in the meeting-exhibition
During the meeting days the meeting delegates could also visit an exhibition with posters and digital screens showing examples of work done in Sweden to address antibiotic resistance. The following two projects where ReAct is involved were amongst the projects displayed:
1. The Swedish STRAMA model for healthcare professionals
The Swedish STRAMA model was initiated in 2011 as a model to further integrate work to prevent antibiotic resistance into the Swedish health care regions’ core activities. The model has created a national structure for knowledge-based care, exchange of experience and learning for health care professionals. STRAMA will release an app in English beginning May to make the experiences and learnings from this program more widely available.
2. Antibiotic Smart Sweden
Antibiotic Smart Sweden is an initiative that promotes the understanding of antibiotic resistance as a public health issue that is relevant to the whole of society. Through setting up, and encouraging the use of, benchmarks in different sectors, the project demonstrates how different parts of society can be made ‘antibiotic smart’.
ReAct also contributed to the exhibition via the digital screens with the movie Antibiotic resistance – the silent tsunami and the ReAct report “Achieving sustainable access to effective antibiotics for everyone, everywhere”.
Look at video:
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