Reversing antibiotic resistance? Here’s how Sweden is doing it

Reversing antibiotic resistance? Here’s how Sweden is doing it

The antibiotic resistance threat is real. In the years to come, we will no longer be able to treat and cure many infections we once could.

We’ve had no new classes of antibiotics in decades, and the development pipeline is largely dry. Each time we use antibiotics, the bacteria in our bodies become more resistant to the few antibiotics we still have.

The problem seems clear and the solution obvious: to prescribe our precious antibiotics only when absolutely needed. Implementing this nationally is not an easy task. But Australia could take cues from other countries making significant progress in this area, such as Sweden.

The Swedish example

Antibiotic use was rising steadily in Sweden during the 1980s and 1990s, causing an increase in antibiotic resistant bacteria. A group of doctors mobilised to tackle this threat, and brought together peak bodies across pharmaceuticals, infectious diseases and other relevant areas to form a national coalition.

The Swedish Strategic Programme Against Antibiotic Resistance (Strama) was founded in 1995.

Since then, Strama has been working on a national and regional level to reduce antibiotic use. Between 1992 and 2016, the number of antibiotics prescriptions decreased by 43% overall. Among children under four, antibiotics prescriptions fell by 73%.

Levels of antibiotic use and resistance in Sweden are now ...

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