ECDC AMR DAY 2020 – “In times of COVID-19, don’t give up on antimicrobial resistance”

ECDC AMR DAY 2020 – “In times of COVID-19, don’t give up on antimicrobial resistance”

Posted on November 17, 2020

Every year, on 18 November, takes place the European Antibiotic Awareness Day (EAAD), a European health initiative coordinated by ECDC, with the aim of raising awareness on the issue. This year has a special taste due to COVID-19 pandemic, and the theme chosen for the EAAD 2020 is “In times of COVID-19, don’t give up on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and stay united to preserve antimicrobials”.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR), one of the top ten global public health challenges of our time, is a professional and political concern that has been high on the EU and global health agenda. The European Commission estimates that antibiotic-resistant bacteria have been associated with the death of 33.000 people in the European Union, and around €1.5 billion each year in healthcare costs and productivity losses. The latest data confirm that across the EU, the number of patients infected by resistant bacteria is increasing every year, which could lead to 10 million deaths per year worldwide by 2050 if no action is taken.

Fighting this threat is a public health priority that requires a collaborative global approach across sectors. AMR has many aspects that can be dealt with, including education of the public and professionals. The EFN believes that nurses have a crucial role to play in this, mainly in two key areas: informing and motivating the public; and, preventing and managing the infections. As nurses have closer and more frequent contact with patients and carers, and undertake the role of care coordinator, they are ideally placed to lead antimicrobial resistance reduction and antibiotic stewardship programmes. But to tackle AMR frontline, health policies need to be ‘fit for purpose’, and the AMR national Action Plans need to reflect the nurses’ voice. Furthermore, European initiatives to tackle AMR do not take up in a systematic way the health professionals’ frontline perspectives into account, in particular the 3 million nurses throughout the EU. A greater involvement of nurses in initiatives promoting prudent antimicrobial prescribing and management could substantially increase the extent to which these actions can improve health outcomes.

As the nursing profession is the largest occupational group in the health ecosystem, providing up to 80% of healthcare services, EU health policies should reflect the nurses’ expertise and pragmatic approach on this. If this is not the case, policies and tools will stay on the bookshelves.

In this context, the XIV European Patients’ Rights Day is looking at citizens’ engagement & multi stakeholders’ actions to tackle antimicrobial resistance and sustain EU progress, during a digital multi-stakeholder conference organised on 18 & 19 November, starting from concrete examples and experiences coming from different countries, involving the point of view of patient and civic associations, EU Institutions and experts, health professionals, public and private bodies.