Antibiotics are important medicines for treating bacterial infections in both humans and animals. Antibiotics are losing their effectiveness at an increasing rate. Antibiotic resistance is one of the most significant threats to patients' safety in Europe. It is driven by overusing antibiotics and prescribing them inappropriately. To slow down the development of antibiotic resistance it is important to use antibiotics in the right way, to use the right drug, at the right dose, at the right time for the right duration. Antibiotics should be taken as prescribed, never saved for later or shared with others.
Watch the video 'What is antibiotic resistance, and why should we care?', then visit antibioticguardian.com to make a pledge about how you’ll make better use of antibiotics and help save this vital medicine from becoming obsolete.
European Antibiotic Awareness Day (EAAD)
Every year, European Antibiotic Awareness Day is held on November 18. It's a Europe-wide public health initiative that encourages responsible use of antibiotics.
Public Health England (PHE) is responsible for co-ordinating EAAD activities in England. PHE is working towards the One Health initiative with the Department of Health’s Expert Advisory Committee on Antimicrobial Resistance and Healthcare Associated Infections (ARHAI), the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), devolved administrations and other professional bodies/organisations.
One Health recognises that the health of people, animals and the environment are closely linked. It brings together multiple disciplines that aim to provide good health for all.
What is the problem?
Antibiotic resistance is an everyday problem in all hospitals across England and Europe. The spread of resistant bacteria in hospitals is a major issue for patients' safety.
- Infections with antibiotic-resistant bacteria increase levels of disease and death, as well as the length of time people stay in hospitals.
- Inappropriate use of antibiotics may increasingly cause patients to become colonised or infected with resistant bacteria.
- Few new antibiotics are being developed. As resistance in bacteria grows, it will become more difficult to treat infection, and this affects patient care.
What is causing this problem?
Inappropriate use and prescribing of antibiotics is causing the development of resistance.
Inappropriate use includes:
- not taking your antibiotics as prescribed
- skipping doses of antibiotics
- not taking antibiotics at regular intervals
- saving some for later
Inappropriate prescribing includes:
- unnecessary prescription of antibiotics
- unsuitable use of broad-spectrum antibiotics
- wrong selection of antibiotics and inappropriate duration or dose of antibiotics
How can the problem be addressed?
Make antibiotic prescribing a strategic priority in hospitals by:
- targeting antibiotic therapy
- implementing structured antimicrobial stewardship plans
- reviewing local surveillance and assessing microbiological data
Make antibiotic prescribing a priority in primary care by:
- developing an antibiotic stewardship tool for prescribers
NHS Choices links