Päivi Sillanaukee MD, PhD, eMBA, Ambassador for Health and Wellbeing at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland
Päivi Sillanaukee highlights the multidimensional character of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR). She mentions two key aspects that are relevant in curbing the unnecessary use of antibiotics: the role of prevention and the role of basic science and research on AMR.
The Covid-19 pandemic has given the population relevant experience in health guidance, diagnostics and information. Many aspects of this infection prevention and control, such as hand hygiene, aseptics and immunization can be utilized in the silent pandemic of AMR. It is important to strengthen the possibilities of the population to monitor their own health and to enhance early diagnostics. This can significantly reduce the need for treatment and the use of antibiotics.
Various innovations in the healthcare sector can further prevent the spread of infectious diseases, such as indoor air cleaning solutions, self-desinfecting coating solutions for good surface hygiene and the effective management of hazardous and hospital waste. Unfortunately, the regulation framework with regard to these new technological solutions is lagging behind in various countries. Finland has a lot to offer in innovations for strenghtening the role of prevention in the health sector.
Basic science and research on AMR
Health and life science research is the basis for understanding the phenomenon of AMR and for finding new mechanisms of action to develop new antimicrobials. The Finnish government is committed to enhancing the digitalization of social and health care through investment in health-related science, innovation, research and education. One of the trends in healthcare is the transformation of treatment from mass-oriented care towards individual care, which enables healthcare workers to address the causes rather than merely the symptoms of diseases. Päivi believes this is also significant in the efforts to reduce the unnecessary use of antibiotics.
To curb AMR, it is crucial to enhance the use of health data. In Finland, all patient records and prescriptions are in an electronic format. These medical records are the only ones in the world in which clinical care, prescriptions, patient-reported outcomes and social data are fully integrated. Finland has launched a project to develop an ecosystem, called Fingenious, for the utilization of data reserves in biomedical research and development. Furthermore, the Finnish government is modifying the legislative environment and administration to facilitate advances in digitalization and the use of data. The Finnish Act on the Secondary Use of Health and Social Data (2019) and the Biobank Law (2012) elevate research, innovation and investment opportunities across health and wellbeing, from disease prevention to protective and personalised medicine and new treatment methods with a full focus on data privacy and security.
In tackling AMR, Päivi stresses the importance of cross-sectoral collaboration at all levels of society. The need for multi-sectorality has been the basis of Finland’s approach in this matter and builds on the implementation of the Health in All Policies (HiAP) concept.
AMR is a global, crossborder health threat that requires continuous surveillance, research and preparedness. Finland welcomes the global efforts against AMR. In the midst of the ongoing pandemic it is even more important to continue global collaboration on this topic.