Use of antibiotics - only if necessary

Bern, 10.11.2017 - Spearheading the fight against antimicrobial resistance, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched its Antibiotic Awareness Week. Switzerland is joining the movement for the first time from 13 to 17 November 2017. Professionals and especially the wider public need to be aware that the consequences of antibiotic resistance are severe and on the rise.

As part of the Swiss national Strategy on Antibiotic Resistance (StAR), experts from the fields of human and veterinary medicine, agriculture and the environment have been working since 2015 on measures to reduce the development of resistance. Key issues include the expansion of data collection, the drafting of prescription guidelines and measures to prevent infections to avoid the need for antibiotics in the first place.

Careful use of antibiotics

In human medicine, trends in antibiotic resistance have been recorded since 2004. Resistance is increasing in some pathogens but is stable or declining in others. Antibiotic use has remained stable over the last two years. However, the quantity of antibiotics dispensed is not the unique factor; the quality of prescriptions is equally important. To ensure proper antibiotic use, the Swiss professional associations are currently drawing up national prescription guidelines. In addition, PharmaSuisse, the Swiss Medical Association (FMH) and the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) have produced a fact sheet for patients containing recommendations for using antibiotics. 

In veterinary medicine, a study launched in 2006 as part of a national surveillance programme has been examining resistance in indicator bacteria and zoonotic bacteria affecting pigs, cattle and poultry; in 2014, analysis of fresh meat samples were added to this programme. Resistance is increasing, decreasing or remaining stable depending on the animal species, sampling point and antibiotic. For both human and veterinary medicine, Switzerland is in line with the European average.

Antibiotic Awareness Week

Antibiotic resistance is increasing worldwide. The risk of infectious diseases becoming untreatable is growing and many human and animal lives are at threat. Switzerland has not been spared: every year, humans and animals die due to bacterial infections, which no longer respond to antibiotics. The World Health Organization (WHO), in cooperation with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), wishes to raise public awareness of these issues via the Antibiotic Awareness Week.

Exchanging information on the topic of antimicrobial resistance will be at the heart of the Swiss Awareness Week, which will run from 13 to 19 November 2017. Talks will be organised in collaboration with participants from the fields of human medicine, veterinary sciences, agriculture and the environment. Various events, publications and information sessions have been announced. The activities scheduled during the week are supported by the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO), the Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG) and the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN). 

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