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Public Health (13-05-2014)

EU and US progress in the fight against antimicrobial resistance

Today, the European Commission (EC) and the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) publish a progress report on the Transatlantic Taskforce on Antimicrobial Resistance (TATFAR). The report outlines the advances made during the first TATFAR implementation period of 2011 to 2013, and renews the commitment of US and EU health authorities to pursue specific goals in their joint battle against antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Notable outcomes of TATFAR activities for the reporting period include:

  • Adoption of procedures for timely international communication of critical events that might indicate new resistance trends with global public health implications
  • Publication of a report on the 2011 workshop, “Challenges and solutions in the development of new diagnostic tests to combat antimicrobial resistance”on the TATFAR website
  • Joint presentations to the scientific community to increase awareness on the available funding opportunities on both sides of the Atlantic

Why a Transatlantic Taskforce?

Antimicrobial resistance is increasingly recognised as serious cross-border health threat of global dimension which requires a multi-sectorial and global response. Studies estimate that antimicrobial-resistant infections result in at least 25 000 deaths in 29 countries in Europe and 23 000 deaths in the US every year. In addition, antimicrobial resistance costs the EU and the US billions every year in avoidable healthcare costs and productivity losses.

With these factors in mind, TATFAR was created following the 2009 US–EU Presidential Summit. The taskforce aims to improve collaboration between the EU and US in three key areas:1) appropriate therapeutic use of antimicrobial drugs in medical and veterinary communities, 2) prevention of healthcare and community-associated drug-resistant infections, and 3) strategies for improving the pipeline of new antimicrobial drugs.

Although significant progress in reducing specific types of infections has been made in the EU and the US, the global problem of AMR continues to grow. Therefore, the original mandate of the taskforce that ran through 2013 has recently been extended for at least two additional years.

What’s next?

TATFAR originally identified and adopted 17 recommendations for collaboration between the EU and the US, where common actions can deliver the best results in the prevention and control of AMR. Of these, 15 will continue, along with one new recommendation, for the EU and US partner agencies to focus on moving forward.

Forthcoming publications from the taskforce during 2014 that will provide a foundation for further specific joint collaborative actions include:

  • A report summarising the strategies hospitals in the EU and US should include as part of their programs to improve antimicrobial prescribing practices
  • A joint publication summarising the existing methods for measuring antimicrobial use in hospital settings
  • A joint publication describing the need for new vaccines for healthcare-associated infections (HAIs)
  • A joint publication comparing the results of the EU and US point prevalence surveys, which are used to estimate the burden of HAIs in each population.

For more information on the fight against AMR in the EU:

http://ec.europa.eu/health/antimicrobial_resistance/policy/index_en.htm

http://ec.europa.eu/food/food/biosafety/antimicrobial_resistance/index_en.htm

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