Swedish work against antibiotic resistance – a One Health approach

The antibiotic resistance situation in Sweden is currently favorable, with comparatively low levels of both antibiotic resistance and use in the human and animal sector. This outcome is influenced by several factors including strong local commitment as well as strategic work at both the regional and national level.

An adult and a child with a dog in the nature. Illustration.

The first Swedish national action plan was published in 2000 and emphasised the One Health approach. In 2016, the Government issued a strategy to serve as a foundation for Sweden’s efforts at both national level and in international collaborations. The strategy was updated in February 2020 and remains effective in effect until the end of 2025. Both the strategy and the action plan are informed by the experience and results gained from ongoing multi-sectoral efforts.

Early response in the human and animal sectors

The process to ban the use of antibiotics as growth promoters started in the 1980s and was championed by Swedish farmers, veterinarians and more. This resulted in a national ban on the use of antibiotics as growth promoters in 1986, followed by efforts to implement strategies to prevent infections through improved animal husbandry and welfare. In the human sector, an early response to increasing antibiotic resistance in the mid-1990's led to the initiation of long-term and structured measures from authorities and professional groups such as Strama. One strategy was to implement treatment recommendations for common infections in outpatient care, resulting in a sustained decrease in antibiotic consumption.

Over time, surveillance of antibiotic consumption and resistance in the animal and human sectors has been progressively integrated, for example in the annual integrated Swedres-Svarm report.

Sweden’s multisector surveillance

These examples highlight some of the key factors enabling the current multi-sectorial efforts in Sweden, including the importance of political and legislative support as well as communication, community awareness and enabling behaviours. In addition, supporting and funding research, in the sectors of animal, human and environmental health and through for example OneHealth Sweden, drives continued knowledge creation for the future.

How Sweden works with communication and enabling behaviours

Research and innovation in Sweden within the field of antibiotic resistance

Related publication

  • Swedish work against antibiotic resistance – a One Health approach

    Swedish work against antibiotic resistance – a One Health approach

    This brochure is published by the agencies and organisations included in the Intersectoral Coordinating Mechanism, ICM. The ICM engages governmental agencies and organisations working in human health, animal health, food, environment, research, trade and civil contingency planning and is jointly run by the Public Health Agency of Sweden and the Swedish Board of Agriculture.