Nordic collaboration to combat antibiotic resistance

Last changed: 22 February 2023

The Nordic Council challenges the EU to combat antibiotic resistance. From early cooperation and lobbying to a successful European Parliament agreement – One Health Sweden was part of it.


"The Nordic countries have developed positive solutions to prevent resistance to antibiotics. What was needed was political action, documentation and for people to exchange experiences and information across sectors in order to cope with the challenges faced at global level." This was the gist of a panel discussion on "Sustainable Health - One Health from a Nordic perspective" held in Copenhagen on 31 October 2011 as part of the autumn Session of the Nordic Council, where representatives of One Health Sweden took part.

The European Parliament was at the time in the process of preparing legislation on veterinary medicine and animal health. The Nordic Council believed that this was a window of opportunity for European action against antibiotic resistance.

Moving on to concrete suggestions in 2015

- We have a unique opportunity to combat this enormous threat to human and animal health. It is not acceptable that 25.000 people are killed annually in Europe due to antibiotic resistance. Urgent action is needed. We can save lives, said Christel Schaldemose.

The seminar "One Health from a Nordic perspective" was hosted by Christel Schaldemose, Member of the European Parliament, together with the Nordic Council 22 April, 2015.

One Health Sweden was represented by professor, DVM, Lotta Berg who spoke on "Improved animal welfare leads the way to healthier people" — about ways to reduce the use of antibiotics and decrease antibiotic resistance in veterinary medicine.

The Nordic Council recommended that the European Parliament should pass legislation that would accomplish the following:

  • Stops the practice of using antibiotics as an instrument for preventing disease, in reality a substitute for neglecting animal welfare
  • Prohibits doctors and veterinarians to earn money on the sale of antibiotics
  • Supports co-operation between the human and veterinary sectors as well as the involvement of industry that acts responsibly
  • Strengthens monitoring and data collection as a basis for prevention close to the source
  • Limits the total use of antibiotics, and promotes the use of narrow- spectrum antibiotics as the first choice in treatment
  • Underpins treatment of humans and animals based on diagnostics and an understanding of resistance patterns
  • Improves controls of emissions and measures to prevent antibiotics in the environment

From successful lobbying to a European Parliament agreement June 2018

When the Nordic Council arranged a seminar at the European Parliament on the 25th of April 2018, professor, MD, Åsa Melhus represented One Health Sweden and was the key note speaker. She addressed "A world without effective antibiotics – Greatest threat to healthcare worldwide – What to do about it? The overall title of the meeting was "Solutions to Antimicrobial resistance - the way forward from a Nordic perspective".

This meeting was a continuation of the successful lobbying work leading up to the agreement in June 2018. One Health Sweden has played an active role in this initiative and contributed with much expertise.

Many articles, opinion pieces and interviews on the importance of less use of antibiotics have appeared in Swedish papers and other media as part of this crucial One Health work. "When antibiotics stop working" was one of the TV-interviews were the Nordic expertise on the subject was visible.

Agreement to restrict the use of antibiotics was finally made in June 2018