EU Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou has warned that the prevalence of multi-drug resistant super bugs needs to be addressed at a local as well as EU level. Vassiliou has termed the super bug as a major public health challenge.
"Four million people have healthcare infections every year in the EU. Out of that figure, 35,000 die," said Vassiliou on the sidelines of a two-day informal meeting of health ministers.
"We consider antimicrobial resistance or AMR as one of the major challenges for public health."
AMR is caused by the frequent use of antibiotics and had become even "more of a health peril than road accidents," she said, adding: "This shows us that we have to take real action."
In most of the 27 EU member states, an increase of AMR had been detected between 2001 and 2005, even if the adoption of national strategies had reversed the process in some countries.
"It is necessary for all EU member states to learn from each other and to follow the good practices and adopt measures to fight AMR," Vassiliou said.
As part of an EU campaign to increase awareness about AMR and promote prudent use of antibiotics, the bloc's health ministers agreed to declare November 18 as the European Antibiotic Awareness Day.
Slovenian Health Minister Zofija Mazej Kukovic, hosting the meeting at Brdo pri Kranju near capital Ljubljana, said the prescribing antibiotics had become commonplace in Europe.
Slovenia currently holds the EU's rotating presidency and the informal meeting here was to prepare for a gathering of EU health ministers in Luxembourg in June.