What is the National Institute of Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) doing about antibiotic resistance?

RIVM keeps track of the current state of affairs with regard to antimicrobial resistance in the Netherlands and advises the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. In this regard, it is important for the parties tackling antibiotic resistance to keep each other informed. A list of partners can be found in the right-hand column of this page.

In managing the issue of resistance, the government proposes to use five key points. RIVM has a particularly important role in finding out how often people become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. In the Netherlands, various campaigns (listed below) are currently being carried out in this area.

  • Surveillance of resistance and use
    RIVM is carrying out a number of activities to gather details of antibiotic use and of the number of infections involving resistant bacteria. 
    Summary of surveillance studies
  • Responsible and prudent use of antibiotics in the health service
    The Dutch Working Party on Antibiotic Policy (Dutch acronym: SWAB) sets the quality standard (guidelines) for the use of antibiotics. Doctors are required to follow the national guidelines for antibiotic use.
  • Responsible and prudent use of antibiotics in the veterinary sector and in the environment

In December 2008, the government and the four largest animal sectors, together with other players in the chain, signed an agreement to cut back the use of antibiotics. The level of antibiotic use is currently in line with the agreements reached, indeed there are good prospects for a further reduction in antibiotic use in the Dutch animal husbandry sector.

Measures to prevent the spread of resistant microorganisms

  • The Working Party on Infection Prevention (WIP) has drawn up guidelines for this purpose. Some of these have been compiled and included in hospital Safety Management systems.
  • The national registration of data on resistance and infection allows local data to be compared with national data. This provides targets for local improvement projects in the areas of infection prevention and correct antibiotic use.

Research (creation, transmission, development of new resources)

  • It is difficult to measure the effect that reduced antibiotic use in the veterinary sector has had on human health.
  • Infections caused by resistant microorganisms can have various causes. RIVM is exploring a number of ways in which resistant bacteria can spread. The range of sources being investigated includes the environment, food or livestock.

International level

In addition to its work in the Netherlands, RIVM is also involved in various international networks. The most important of these are:

The Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport has Memorandums of Understanding with several countries in the area of reducing antibiotic resistance.

The World Health Organization (WHO) assigned RIVM WHO Collaborating Centre status for Antimicrobial Resistance Epidemiology and Surveillance.


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