IMPACT – a One Health Sino-Swedish collaboration on antibiotic resistance for sustainable change completed

22 Mar 2019

Last week, IMPACT, a five-year Sweden-China collaborative project between a total of 10 organizations in Sweden and China, was completed. On March 14, a dissemination meeting was held for the project in Beijing with almost 100 participants from Sweden, China and other countries. The Chargé d’affaires at the Embassy of Sweden in Beijing, Lennart Linnér, participated and gave an opening speech.

IMPACT focuses on antibiotic resistance and shows the importance of studying both people, animals and the environment using the so-called One Health perspective. Antibiotic resistance in bacteria is a growing global challenge affecting both human and animal health, while threatening our welfare throughout the world.

The Swedish Public Health Agency has led the project together with Zhejiang University. The project has been funded by the Swedish Research Council and the Chinese counterpart National Natural Science Foundation of China.

 – It has been an exciting project where we have gathered expertise broadly in the field of antibiotic use and resistance. This is a prioritized area in China, as a large part of the population carries bacteria antibiotic resistant bacteria and increased knowledge is needed to be able to slow down this development. What happens in China inevitably plays a major role as it affects the whole world, says Anette Hulth, from the Public Health Agency of Sweden, the overall project manager for the IMPACT project.

The purpose of the collaboration has been to map resistance, medicine prescriptions and antibiotic use in healthy and sick people and animals, as well as occurrences in the environment. The next step will be to develop new strategies for controlling the spread of antibiotic resistance, including in animal husbandry. The One Health perspective, which means taking an overall approach to the environment, animal and human health, has permeated the project.

China is one of the world's largest manufacturers and users of antibiotics, which has resulted in a high percentage of resistance amongst the population. The IMPACT project, carried out in China’s Shandong province, shows that 80 percent of the healthy people and 90 percent of the pigs sampled are carrying resistant intestinal bacteria. The province is one of the world's largest animal producers in the world. Animals and people carrying resistant bacteria risk being unable to be treated with antibiotics should they become ill. The IMPACT project has resulted in invaluable knowledge which can be used in finding general methods for limiting the spread of antibiotic resistance.

– It is extremely important for the international community to work together to tackle this challenge. Antibiotic resistance is a global problem and in order to find solutions we need to cooperate across both countries and continents, working in line with Agenda 2030, said Johan Carlson, Director General of the Public Health Agency of Sweden.