We are in this together

Excellences, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen, Welcome.
Welcome to Ålesund!

It is a great pleasure for me to welcome each of you here today.

We are gathered here, because of a serious situation.
The world is fighting an important combat: the Combat against AMR.
Luckily, the world community is waking up.
It's about time.

More countries and the global community are starting to realize the seriousness of the situation, and the implications of a future without effective antibiotics.

AMR is one of the greatest threats to global health in our time.
It has no borders.
It affects us all.

For the last 75 years we have had effective antibiotics to help us fight bacterial infections. They have had an enormous impact on reducing infectious diseases, and they have been of outstanding importance in modern medicine.

Without a unison, global action, we now face a future without this crucial tool.

As early as in 1945, Sir Alexander Fleming warned us about the excessive use of antibiotics, when he received his Nobel Prize in Medicine.

Today we have solid evidence that the use of antibiotics increases the development of antibiotic resistance.

We are facing a future where infections that are of no risk today, may cause serious health problems and frequent deaths.

Antibiotics are a necessity in modern cancer treatment, in neonatal medicine, in transplant surgery and in a range of common surgical procedures.

Without effective antibiotics, the risks of complications in common surgical procedures may become unacceptable.

We may no longer be able to treat serious bacterial infections like pneumonia and meningitis.

That does not mean that we should stop using antibiotics.
We just need to use less of it.
And we need to use it correctly.
Limit the use to when it is really needed

My dear friends, the process to solve this is clear:
We need a multi-sectoral and comprehensive One-Health approach - both nationally and globally.
We need to work together in the UN, in the EU, between the Nordic countries, national governments, the private sector, the agricultural sector, fisheries, NGOs and consumers.

I am very happy that the Norwegian Cancer Society earlier this month requested other cancer associations to contribute in the fight against AMR.  

We need to do this together.

We need it for ours and coming generations health and welfare.
We need it for the environment.
For the global economy.
And for the health and well-being of animals.

The World Health Organization's Global AMR Action Plan from 2015 is a landmark in the global fight against AMR. The plan calls for national action plans.

The Norwegian Government presented its National Strategy against Antibiotic Resistance in 2015, followed by an action plan for the health sector, and the animal and food sector.

We have set ambitious goals for ourselves:

  • The use of antibiotics on humans will be reduced by 30 percent by 2020.
  • We want to be top 3  in Europe for the lowest use of antibiotics.

I am happy that we are on track!
Between 2012 and 2016 the use of antibiotics in Norway decreased by 13 percent.
This is a good start, but it is not good enough.
The good work must continue and accelerate.
Starting a job is easy, finishing it is the real challenge.

Patients must understand the antibiotics challenge.
Doctors must understand their responsibility.
We all must improve our understanding of these issues.

One issue is that agriculture accounts for 80 percent globally of antibiotics usage.

Another issue is that this is a global fight – we fight and win together.

Norway has taken a leading role internationally and the world is responding.

We helped put AMR on the agenda for the UN High Level meeting in New York in the autumn of 2016.

We joined the German leadership in securing a clear focus on AMR at the G20 Health Minister meeting in Berlin in May this year.

Coordinated actions plans on a national level are crucial for a successful outcome. I have a strong hope that the European Union's work on a One-Health Action Plan against AMR will boost the processes in all the European countries.

The Nordic Region must continue its focused effort.
We need a clear voice. 
We will contribute globally by sharing our best practices.
We will ensure efficient use of the Nordic resources in the areas of AMR.
The new global Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI) hosted at the Norwegian Insitute of Public Health, is one example.

The Joint Programming Initiative on AMR hosted by the Swedish Research Council in Stockholm is another example of the Nordic contribution to this global challenge. It is a unique international collaborative platform. It coordinates national funding and it drives collaborative action on research in antimicrobial resistance based on a one-health perspective.

I hope this important seminar and tomorrows meeting of the Nordic Council of Ministers will bring the Nordic cooperation on AMR even further.

I look forward to hearing Commissioner Andriukaitis presentation on the EU Action plan on AMR that the commission will adopt at the end of June.

And I look forward to learning more from our second key speaker, Chief Medical Officer in the UK,Professor Dame Sally Davies who will update us on the important work of the UN.

Let me wrap up by repeating that no one can save the world alone – we are in this together and we need to fight the AMR-challenge together.

Thank you!