A fast-paced year of work against antimicrobial resistance (AMR)

Published

One of Malin Grape's main tasks is to promote the visibility of the government's priority issues in the field of antimicrobial resistance in the international arena and to contribute to a strengthened global dialogue. As Swedish Ambassador for work against AMR, she highlighted this issue at several key forums in 2023, including during the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the European Union and at the World Health Assembly (WHA).

A portrait of Ms Malin Grape
Malin Grape, Swedish AMR Ambassador. Photo: Ninni Andersson/Government Offices of Sweden

“Over the past year we’ve reached several key milestones in the efforts against antimicrobial resistance, which is an area where Sweden has a strong international voice. The issue is global – resistant bacteria don’t care about national borders, which is why we must also work in international forums,” says Ms Grape.

AMR a priority issue during Swedish Presidency of the Council of the EU

During the Swedish Presidency of the EU, Minister for Social Affairs and Public Health Jakob Forssmed hosted a high-level meeting on antimicrobial resistance, with over 200 high-level delegates from EU and EEA countries in attendance. The meeting began with speeches by Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Victoria, Minister for Social Affairs and Public Health Jakob Forssmed, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides and WHO Regional Director for Europe Dr Hans Kluge. Ms Grape was a driving force in the efforts to draft a policy document on how to stimulate research and development, and ensure access to new and existing antibiotics. She also led a special session on these topics for AMR experts.

WHO an important partner in work against AMR

The World Health Organization (WHO) is a key actor and cooperation partner for Sweden in the efforts against antimicrobial resistance. At the World Health Assembly (WHA) in May, Minister for Health Care Acko Ankarberg Johansson and Ms Grape co-hosted the annual meeting of the Ministerial Alliance of Champions against Antimicrobial Resistance, which Sweden leads together with the United Kingdom. Through Ms Grape, Sweden has also been a catalyst in the drafting of the European Roadmap on AMR, an action plan that was adopted at WHO Europe’s annual session last October. The Roadmap lists 53 measures that countries can choose to implement based on their national and cultural context and public health priorities. The plan’s measures range from improved hygiene and vaccination to the use of whole genome sequencing to improve monitoring of antibiotics and resistance in the environment.

Road to the 2024 UNGA

A high-level meeting on work against microbial resistance will be held at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in September 2024. Preparations for of this meeting began in 2023, and Ms Grape met with colleagues from around the world to discuss priorities for it. She has met with representatives of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the US Department of Health and Human Services, and the US Senate. She also participated in a dialogue ahead of a high-level meeting last December at Wilton Park in the UK, a part of the British Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

Antimicrobial resistance

In brief, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) means that infectious agents (bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi) develop resistance to treatment. In particular, bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics are a growing threat to health and food production worldwide. Just like other bacteria, resistant bacteria can be transferred between people, animals and food, and they can spread in our environment. This means that a number of areas such as human and animal health, the environment, research, education, trade and international development cooperation need to be involved to combat AMR in a multi-sectoral One Health approach. Resistance to antimicrobials in general, including antibiotics, is a global problem.