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02/05/2017

Fiocruz and the European Union discuss antimicrobial resistance

André Costa (CCS)

Representatives of Oswaldo Cruz Foundation met with a delegation of the European Union (EU) on the end of March at the Fiocruz's headquarters in Rio to discuss possible cooperation partnerships on antimicrobial resistance.

The delegation was led by the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis. In addition to the Commissioner, the European Union Ambassador in Brazil, João Titternigton Gomes Cravinho, the counselor of the European Union Delegation in Brazil, Rui Manuel Rosário Ludovino, the head of the Health and Phytosanitary Matters Unit and head of the Antimicrobial Resistance task force, Koen Josee M. Van Dyck, and the EU Public Health officers Charles Evan Price and Julia Kerstin Langer were present.

Nísia Trindade Lima, president of Fiocruz, opened the meeting by highlighting that Fiocruz already acts in partnership with the European Union at the ZIKAlliance consortium to address the Zika virus. The consortium gathers 52 institutions from 18 countries.

The president emphasized that “Fiocruz acts in several dimensions of knowledge, from surveillance to reference services,” a range that, according to her, should guide cross-cutting agreements encompassing several areas of health. According to Nísia, an international cooperation agreement with the EU on antimicrobial resistance may follow this path. The president reminded that the Foundation and the United Kingdom developed a common agenda following these guidelines in 2015.

In turn, the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety declared that the European Union funds for Zika virus show the entity’s commitment to global health. “It is a difficult time to promote and ensure rights,” said Andriukaitis. “This means that we need to have very good coordination. And we need institutions that offer people, resources and laboratories to deal with such challenges”, he said.

Most of the meeting was dedicated to discuss tuberculosis (TB). The commissioner highlighted that the development of new vaccines and diagnostic kits is a priority for the EU. “We don’t have any new vaccine for TB in more than 20 years, just as we don’t have new diagnostic kits,” he said.

The head of the Leprosy Laboratory of the Oswaldo Cruz Institute (IOC/Fiocruz), Milton Ozório Moraes, observed that Fiocruz is part of the Stop Tb Brazil network comprised by more than 100 organizations. Moraes declared that “there is no known relation between vaccination and increased resistance to antibiotics in Brazil.” The researcher added that the network includes groups working in antimicrobial resistance.

When closing the meeting, the commissioner called on the parties involved to continue the dialogue in order to advance cooperation agreements. “The need to develop cooperation agreements is crystal clear. We need common methodological approaches with coordinated actions; otherwise, it will be very hard to obtain positive results. We need to keep antimicrobial resistance  high on the political agenda,” he said.

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