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Time for Sweden to get antibiotic-smart

Acfording to the World Health Organisation, WHO, antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today, capable of affecting anyone, of any age, in any country. Antibiotic-Smart Sweden is a project aimed at aligning forces within Sweden to prevent antibiotic resistance. It involves participants from Sweden’s regions, municipalities and its citizens. The project has been organised as a collaborative effort between RISE and the Public Health Agency of Sweden.

Antibiotic resistance is a serious threat that we must take seriously. Each person’s health, as well as our modern healthcare system, is dependent on there being effective antibiotics that can both cure and prevent infections. We need this, for example in cancer care, with hip and knee replacements and for the care of premature infants. Every year, around 33,000 people die in Europe due to antibiotic resistance. And, if nothing is done, that number will just keep rising, sharply, over the next few decades.

In order to address the escalating threat of antibiotic resistance, Vinnova has funded the project called, Antibiotic-Smart Sweden. It is a collaboration between RISE, the Public Health Agency of Sweden, the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR), STRAMA and ReAct, along with three of the country’s municipalities and three regions.

– “There are many initiatives underway in this area. However, the problem of antibiotic resistance is not just relevant to specific organisations or government authorities. It is a fundamental health issue that concerns everyone in society. Everyone needs to help,” says Camilla Björn, Researcher at RISE and one of the two project managers for Antibiotic-Smart Sweden.

Citizens, minucipalities and regions

The project is focused on initiatives that involve individual citizens, municipalities and regions of Sweden. As regards individual citizens, the aim is to increase their knowledge of antibiotic resistance and what they themselves can do to reduce infections and use antibiotics correctly. Within the municipalities and regions of Sweden, we hope to raise the level of awareness on antibiotic resistance at all levels, hoping that it will lead to new working methods, routines, roles, technical solutions and other projects at, for example preschools, schools, nursing homes and hospitals.

One of the objectives of the project is to highlight the importance of antibiotic resistance and that it is clearly linked to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.  

– “Sustainability is something that all municipalities and regions are already working with. However, Antibiotic-Smart Sweden is hoping to emphasize that access to effective antibiotics is a key component of sustainable development,” says Camilla Björn.

We want to get people involved and spark change

Realistic but progressive criteria

One part of the work that is being done involves defining the criteria for how both citizens and the municipal and regional authorities can become antibiotic-smart. Camilla Björn emphasizes that the criteria need to be realistic, yet also future-oriented and challenging so that organisations set the bar higher that what is customary today as basic measures.

– “We want to get people involved and spark change that has a genuine grass-roots feel to it,” she says.

Another aspect of the work involves creating an environment for collaboration, coordination, implementation, scaling up and spreading best practice in antibiotic-smart activities, working methods, technical solutions and organisation. Good examples are being collected on an ongoing basis, but work has not yet started to create a concrete platform for sharing it all.

A survey will be distributed to citizens aimed at learning more about their attitudes towards antibiotics, along with their level of knowledge and opinions on this matter. It is also hoped that the survey will serve as a useful tool when designing future communication campaigns directed at the public. 

Supports the UN sustainability goals

3. Good health and well-being

Bromsat av pandemin

Projektet startade i november 2019, men coronapandemin har bromsat upp arbetet.

– Folkhälsomyndigheten, regionerna och kommunerna har alla haft händerna fulla under hela pandemin, så vårt arbete har inte riktigt gått så snabbt fram som vi önskade. Å andra sidan har pandemin haft det goda med sig att alla har fått upp ögonen för vad en smitta som man inte har något botemedel mot innebär för samhället och för individen. Fler förstår hur illa det kan gå och man ser också vikten av smittförebyggande åtgärder, säger Camilla Björn.

Published: 2021-05-06
Camilla Björn

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Camilla Björn


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