EU and US progress in the fight against antimicrobial resistance
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.
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:
(Source: DG Sanco Website)
One thought on “EU and US taskforce progress in fighting antimicrobial resistance”
When it comes to antibiotic-resistant superbugs I think it is fair to note that we are dealing with a case of collective willful blindness since a cure for many such infections has existed longer than antibiotics have been used. In the book ‘Beyond Bullsh*t: Straight-Talk at Work’ (available at Ottawa public libraries) author and professor of management at the University of California, Samuel A. Culbert, introduces the concept of mokita meaning “the truth everyone knows but no one speaks”. The mokita or paradox of the antibiotic-resistant superbug problem is that we have known how to treat some, perhaps even most, antibiotic-resistant superbug infections since before antibiotics have been used to treat bacterial infections. A recent BBC interview on phage therapy, as this medical treatment is known as, can be found at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p015cdyn/Health_Check_Bacteriophages/ -. (For other videos in English, French and German google ‘phage therapy’ in video mode).
For Canadians it should be of interest that it was the French-Canadian microbiologist, Felix d’Herelle, working at the Pasteur Institute, in 1917 who coined the name bacteriophage and experimented with the possibility of phage therapy – he subsequently worked all over world, including Russia, Tbilisi, Georgia, where his efforts survive to this day in the form of a Phage Therapy Center (http://www.phagetherapycenter.com ) that treats patients from all over the world (For his work, d’Herelle was made a laureate of the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame – http://cdnmedhall.org/dr-f%C3%A9lix-d%E2%80%99h%C3%A9relle ). The Canadian film: Killer Cure: The Amazing Adventures of Bacteriophage and the book by Thomas Haeusler entitled, Viruses vs. Superbugs, a Solution to the Antibiotics Crisis? attest to d’Herelle’s work and both references are available at Ottawa libraries. Another video on phage therapy from Australia can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JG6dnOligeM .
The tragedy is that we are too venal to deploy these weapons of mass-destruction for bacteria in our efforts to win some battles in the fight with pathogenic bacteria even as many Canadian patients suffer and die of antibiotic-resistant infections. I recently read a suggestion that the superbug problem is threatening the practice of medicine as we know it and that it should be considered as a threat for human civilization similar to terrorism and global warming and I would therefore suggest that Canada should establish ‘The Superbug Victim Felix d’Herelle Memorial Center for Experimental Phage Therapy’ to provide phage therapy to patients when antibiotics fail or when patients are allergic to antibiotics. It seems to me that the old American Embassy Building would be an excellent place for such a center as members of parliament would be able to monitor the work, remembering that superbugs do not discriminate!