Press Release

3rd European Antibiotic Awareness Day: 18th November, 2010

The Department of Health and Children today acknowledged the significance of the 3rd European Antibiotic Awareness Day, a Europe-wide initiative to highlight the importance of using antibiotics wisely and preventing antibiotic resistance.

This is a project of the European Centre for Disease prevention and Control (ECDC) and is supported by the European parliament. The ECDC has been working in close collaboration with the Institutions of the European Union, member state authorities, the World Health organisation and many representative groups.

The aim of this, the 3rd European Antibiotic Awareness Day is to build on last year’s successful public education campaign and to continue to inform the general public about when and how to take antibiotics and why responsible antibiotic use is important. This year, particular emphasis is being placed on reducing unnecessary antibiotic use in hospitals.

While antibiotics are regarded as one of the great medical advances of the 20th century and today form a cornerstone for the practice of medicine, the inappropriate use of antibiotics has become a serious threat to public health in Europe. Taking antibiotics for the wrong reason or incorrectly, causes bacteria to develop resistance against antibiotic treatments with a risk to rendering antibiotics ineffective in the future. This has contributed significantly to the emergence of Healthcare Associated Infections world-wide such as MRSA and Clostridium difficile, and has resulted in a number of virulent infections which have developed a resistance to antibiotic treatments and can have major health implications.

Excellent work has been done by the HSE to control the spread of Healthcare Associated Infections. Since the launch of its National Infection Control Action Plan – Say No to Infection in March 2007, there has been a decrease of 40% in the number of MRSA cases reported in that period to the end of 2009. In addition, HIQA’s National Standards for the Prevention and Control of Healthcare Associated Infectionsare due to come into effect before year end.