Bacteria that are resistant to almost all antibiotics continue to spread across Europe. This was revealed by new figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). Antibiotic resistance is, therefore, a threat to public health. In the Netherlands, both the human and veterinary health services are making every effort to combat antibiotic resistance through for example the responsible use of antibiotics.

Infection prevention and A teams in hospitals

In the battle against antibiotic resistance, preventing infections goes hand-in-hand with a responsible antibiotic policy. A study carried out earlier this year by the Netherlands Health Care Inspectorate (IGZ) revealed that some hospitals are not fully compliant with the guidelines for infection prevention. During follow-up visits, however, the IGZ found that these hospitals had achieved rapid and substantial improvements in this area. Special measures have been adopted to ensure that antibiotics are used responsibly. During the next few years, all hospitals will be required to appoint an Antibiotics Team, or A-Team. In addition to ensuring that there is full compliance with the antibiotic guidelines, the A-Team will launch projects aimed at guaranteeing the effectiveness of the hospital’s antibiotic policy.

Research into ESBL-producing (Extended Spectrum Beta-Lactamase) bacteria in humans and animals

The Netherlands Veterinary Medicines Authority (SDa) focuses on promoting the responsible use of antibiotics in the livestock industry, by livestock farmers and veterinarians. The introduction of a range of measures has cut such use by 56 percent since 2007. The Central Veterinary Institute (CVI) is also carrying out research into how people become infected with resistant bacteria (such as ESBL bacteria) and the extent to which animals are involved in this. Once the vulnerable links in the chain have been identified, it will be possible to take targeted action to cut the risk of infection.

European Antibiotic Awareness Day

Today, human and veterinary professionals will be holding a joint symposium to share their ideas, as well as news about new initiatives. This “Antibiotics, only when absolutely necessary!” symposium is being held to mark the occasion of European Antibiotic Awareness Day. It is being staged by the Dutch Working Party on Antibiotic Policy (SWAB), The Netherlands Veterinary Medicines Authority (SDa), and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). Today’s discussions will cover every new initiative that contributes to cutting antibiotic resistance. The goal is to encourage the responsible use of antibiotics, in order to retain the efficacy of current antibiotics.

Combating antibiotic resistance is a matter for both the human and veterinary health services. It is essential that antibiotics be used responsibly in both humans and animals, even though it is still difficult to determine exactly what effects are involved. A range of different initiatives, such as more stringent hygiene measures in hospitals and changes in livestock farming practices, are helping to prevent resistance in humans and animals. It was the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) who proclaimed today European Antibiotic Awareness Day. On this day, many European Union Member States will be focusing on the responsible use of antibiotics in humans and animals. See also ECDC