EPF gets involved to #KeepAntibioticsWorking
As every year, EPF supported the fight against antibiotic resistance by getting involved in the World Antibiotic Awareness Week co-ordinated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the ECDC during 13-19 November.
The European Antibiotic Awareness Day is marked across Europe on 18 November.This year, EPF contributed to the World Antibiotic Awareness Week by organising a Breakfast Briefing, with a special guest: Dominique Monnet, Head of Antimicrobial Resistance and Healthcare-associated Infections Programme at the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) came to our offices and talked in simple words: about antibiotic resistance, its roots, and the avenues to fight it.
You can watch this very interesting and informative session here.
An old, new problem
Antimicrobial resistance is not new. Bacteria are very simple organisms that multiply and mutate very rapidly. Ever since antibiotics were invented, it has been a constant race between the bacteria becoming resistant to treatment and science coming up with new antibiotics. Resistance has now become a particularly urgent public health priority because virtually no new antibiotics are being developed, and overuse/misuse of the ones we have is accelerating the problem. Antibiotics reserved for treating the most resistant bacteria – referred to as “last line” – are now becoming ineffective; and infections such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, gonorrhoea and salmonellosis are becoming harder to treat because of resistance.
Patients with chronic conditions are particularly vulnerable to antibiotic resistance because they need to spend more time, more often in a healthcare environment; and because many routine healthcare procedures, such as operations, often require antibiotics to prevent or deal with infections.
A health literacy issue
Antibiotics treat bacterial infections. They do not cure infections caused by viruses, such as the common cold or flu. However, far too many people do not know this. It is not always possible to know whether an infection is caused by bacteria or virus, so the development of quick diagnostics that can be used at the point of care is becoming urgent.
That said, the situation is not hopeless. Given the lack of new antibiotics being developed, it is critical to:
- reduce the use of antibiotics, that is, to use them responsibly and only when really needed; and
- to practice better infection control.
Even simple interventions, such as ensuring good hand hygiene in healthcare settings, can contribute effectively towards combating resistance.
What can patients do?
For patients, having access to reliable and understandable information is the cornerstone of empowerment – not only for informed decision-making about one’s own health and healthcare, but also to enable patients as citizens to demand action from politicians to actively combat resistance in all policy-making.
- use antibiotics only when prescribed by a certified health professional;
- never demand antibiotics if told by a professional that they do not need them;
- always follow a professional’s advice when using antibiotics;
- never use leftover antibiotics or share them with others;
- take general precautions to avoid infections and keep your vaccinations up to date;
prepare food hygienically and choose foods that have been produced without unnecessary use of antibiotics. (source: WHO)
EPF supports the antibiotic awareness campaigns run by ECDC and WHO. We encourage everyone to visit the ECDC website and take a look at the very informative materials that can be found there. The WHO also has a wealth of materials on its own website; patient organisations can use these to run their own campaigns and disseminate high-quality information to your members.
Share your story!
If you have a personal story to share – if you or someone in your family has been affected by antibiotic resistance – and you would like to contribute your story to the ECDC information campaign, please contact EPF by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. All communications will be treated in strict confidence.
Watch the EPF Breakfast Briefing on Antibiotic Resistance here.
Watch the ECDC Patient stories: https://antibiotic.ecdc.europa.eu/en/patient-stories
Watch a video from the EMA information day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-n-CK9WP88&feature=youtu.be
Watch the entire EMA information day recording here: http://www.ema.europa.eu/ema/index.jsp?curl=pages/news_and_events/events/2017/09/event_detail_001506.jsp&mid=WC0b01ac058004d5c3
Watch WHO video “Antibiotics: handle with care”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZX97bIbZBQ&feature=youtu.be
Contact person: Kaisa Immonen, Director of Policy: email@example.com