Press Release

6th European Antibiotic Awareness Day today, 22nd November, 2013

The Minister for Health, Dr. James Reilly T.D., today (Friday 22nd November, 2013), acknowledges the significance of the 6th 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.

European Antibiotic Awareness Day is a Europe-wide 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, European Antibiotic Awareness Day is marked by national campaigns on the prudent use of antibiotics during week commencing 18 November. Prudent use means only using antibiotics when they are needed, with the correct dose, dosage intervals and duration of the course.

Ireland’s Participation

Ireland’s participation in this valuable initiative is to support the health sector in emphasising the importance of making sure that antibiotic prescribing in hospitals is carried out properly. It cannot be emphasised enough that antibiotics should be prescribed appropriately to try and reduce the chances of antibiotic resistant bacteria emerging in our hospitals and to preserve the use of antibiotics in the future.

To mark European Antibiotic Awareness Day the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI) is holding a full day event today to raise awareness among the media, public and healthcare professionals. The College’s Clinical Advisory Group on the Prevention of Healthcare Associated Infection and Antimicrobial Resistance will target hospital antimicrobial stewardship teams and hospital antibiotic prescribers; a public information campaign will also be launched.

Both aspects of the day form part of a health service-wide campaign to take Action on Antibiotics, where the RCPI is working with the HSE, General Practitioners, pharmacists, hospital physicians and surgeons to promote the message that action on antibiotics is urgently needed to preserve their efficacy for future generations.

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 also welcomed HIQA’s programme of monitoring acute hospitals’ compliance with the National Standards for the Prevention and Control of Healthcare Associated Infections. HIQA’s monitoring of announced and unannounced on-site assessments are made available on its website when published.

ENDS.