Press Release

5th European Antibiotic Awareness Day today, 21st November, 2012

The Minister for Health, Dr. James Reilly T.D., today (Wednesday 21st November, 2012), acknowledged the significance of the 5th European Antibiotic Awareness Day, a Europe-wide initiative to highlight the importance of using antibiotics wisely and preventing antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance still remains a major European and global public health problem and is, for a large part, driven by misuse of antibiotics.

The European Antibiotic Awareness Day is a European health initiative coordinated by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) which aims to provide a platform and support for national campaigns on the prudent use of antibiotics. Each year across Europe, the European Antibiotic Awareness Day is marked by national campaigns on the prudent use of antibiotics during the week of 18 November. Prudent use means only using antibiotics when they are needed, with the correct dose, dosage intervals and duration of the course.

On the occasion of the 5th edition of the European Antibiotic Awareness Day, the ECDC published new EU-wide data on antibiotic resistance and consumption. The HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre has published the results of the Irish component of the EU-wide survey which looked at the prevalence of hospital acquired infections (HAIs) and antibiotic prescribing in 50 Irish hospitals.  The survey found that about one-in-three patients who were admitted to Irish hospitals in May 2012 were prescribed an antibiotic. The results of the survey emphasise the importance of making sure that antibiotic prescribing in hospitals is done properly and that antibiotics are prescribed appropriately to try and reduce the chances of antibiotic resistant bacteria emerging in our hospitals and preserve the use of antibiotics in the future in accordance with policy to date.

To mark European Antibiotic Awareness Day the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland is holding three events during the day to raise awareness among the media, public and healthcare professionals.

Minister Reilly noted that antibiotics are a life-saving resource under serious global threat from overuse and misuse.  The inappropriate use of antibiotics is 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.

The Minister acknowledged the ongoing work of the joint RCPI HSE HCAI Clinical Advisory Group to date in the ongoing development of guidance in relation to the prevention of HCAIs and reduction of antimicrobial resistance. The Minister welcomed the commencement, this month, by HIQA of a programme of monitoring acute hospitals’ compliance with the National Standards for the Prevention and Control of Healthcare Associated Infections. HIQA’s monitoring will consist of announced and unannounced on-site assessments. On completion, the monitoring assessment reports will be published on HIQA’s website.