India, Sweden to increase cooperation on anti-microbial resistance: Swedish Health Minister
According to the Swedish Minister, another area, where India and Sweden can focus would be fighting infections in hospitals
Anti-microbial resistance (AMR) poses a ‘really dangerous’ challenge globally, and India and Sweden intend to boost cooperation to tackle it, Swedish Health Minister Lena Hallengren said. After a meeting with Union Health Minister JP Nadda, Hallengren said, “We were discussing specifically this AMR work because there has been a cooperation but we intend to really increase (it) because it is a global and really dangerous situation we are facing.”
When anti-microbial drugs are overused, AMR develops as microorganisms such as bacteria, virus and fungi that become resistant to drugs. Stating that AMR work is an ‘ongoing cooperation’ between India and Sweden, Hallengren hoped that India would join the ‘Alliance of Champions, which is a creation between many countries globally to face and to fight AMR.’
At the 2015 World Health Assembly, the then Swedish Health Minister Gabriel Wikstrom launched the Alliance of Champions, which consisted of health ministers of 14 countries, to promote political awareness, engagement and leadership on AMR.
Niclas Jacobson, Deputy Director-General, Ministry of Health and Social Affairs said, “The Swedish Public Health Agency is also the WHO collaborating centre on AMR. We are specifically targeting the surveillance to see how is the situation in the countries. And there, the authority (agency) is offering support on how to go about in establishing this surveillance. So that is one part of the cooperation.”
On February 24, 2009, India and Sweden signed a Memorandum of Understanding to cooperate in the field of various issues, including AMR, communicable diseases and public health. In response to a question on whether Sweden is thinking of assisting the Indian government or any state government in India on any health programme directly, the Swedish health minister replied in the negative. “We are thinking of different kind of bilateral cooperation between companies, between agencies, between universities, institutions, that is what I am seeing when I am here, when I am listening to different partners,” Hallengren said. She stated that she has come to India leading a delegation of total 30 people from different sectors – academia, health agencies.
“Each of them is trying to find partners, a way to make sure that you get a win-win situation,” the minister said. Discussing the areas where India and Sweden can focus more in future, the minister said, “It won’t be possible for us to just expand healthcare of hospitals. I think we also have to work in preventive healthcare, which is a very important work for us in Sweden. And that is of course very important for India when you are expanding the healthcare and really working towards the universal health coverage.” She added that it is important to “make sure that as few as possible need the hospital care”. Another area, according to the minister, where India and Sweden can focus would be fighting infections in hospitals. “They (India) are trying to find a good way to help and exchange knowledge on how to have a system to avoid infections in hospitals,” she said.