Wednesday, 18 November is European Antibiotic Awareness Day. On this day, attention throughout Europe is requested for the responsible use of antibiotics in people and animals. As a result of inappropriate and overuse use of antibiotics, increasingly more bacteria are becoming resistance to antibiotics.

The fight against antibiotic resistance in the Netherlands is based on several pillars: prevention of infections, responsible use of antibiotics to treat an infection, prevention of the spread of resistant bacteria, and innovations that can help to fight against antibiotic resistance. There is a national approach with action in the areas of people, animals, food and environment (One Health approach).

Responsible use

Antibiotics are effective against bacterial infections but not against viral infections, such as flu and colds. The more often you take antibiotics, the greater the chance of developing resistance See our animation 'Antibiotic resistance: why do some antibiotics fail?'. For this reason, antibiotics are only available in the Netherlands to patients on prescription, and doctors are reluctant to prescribe antibiotics. It is important for patients to follow the advice of their doctor.

Preventing the spread

Regardless of how careful we are with the use of antibiotics in the Netherlands, people can carry resistant bacteria from outside the country without even knowing, or become infected through contact with farm and other animals. It is essential to prevent the further spread of these bacteria. Especially in care homes and hospitals, the spread of bacteria can lead to problems because the patients are particularly vulnerable. Bacteria spread can be prevented with good hygiene, such as hand washing and the use of disinfectants. And by gaining insight into which people are carriers of resistant bacteria. See our animation 'how to prevent the spread of resistant bacteria'.


On the occasion of the European Antibiotic Day, RIVM and various partners have organised a symposium. Participants include policy makers and healthcare professionals who are involved in the prescription and use of antibiotics, such as hospital doctors and veterinarians . The objective of this year’s symposium is to illustrate how new knowledge and innovation can be used in the collective fight against antibiotic resistance. 

European Antibiotic Awareness Day 

The annual European Antibiotic Awareness Day is the initiative of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). ECDC has requested all EU European Union (European Union) Member States to give attention on this day to responsible use of antibiotics. 

European Action Plan

The Netherlands will hold the Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the first six months of 2016. In 2016, the EU Action Plan on Antibiotic Resistance, which started in 2011, will come to an end. Minister Schippers has agreed with Euro Commissioner Andriukaitis to organise a ministerial conference in spring 2016, at which the evaluation of the current Action Plan will be presented. The conference is being organised by the Dutch Ministries of  Health, Welfare and Sport, and for Economic Affairs for EU Ministers. WHO Collaborating Centre Antimicrobial Resistance Epidemiology and Surveillance hosted by RIVM supports the WHO with the implementation of the Global Action Plan on Antibiotic Resistance and the European Strategic Action Plan on Antibiotic Resistance.