Slovakia takes action against growing antibiotic resistance


Slovakia joins the first World Antibiotic Awareness Week (WAAW), announced by WHO, taking place on 16–22 November 2015.

A press conference that took place on 16 November 2015 kicked off a series of activities prepared jointly by the Ministry of Health, the WHO Country Office in Slovakia, Slovak Patient – NGO and the European Union representation in Slovakia.

"The objective of the activities is to further strengthen awareness about the risks of the growing antibiotic resistance and to make appeals for their reasonable use both by health professionals and the general population," says Dr Darina Sedlakova, Head of WHO Country Office in Slovakia. She adds, "The reason for that is the continuous increase in the number of patients with resistant bacteria that do not respond to standard antibiotic treatment. How long are we able to manage this situation and what is going happen if the antibiotics fail to take an effect?"

A survey among patients and primary care physicians was conducted during the previous 3 months. It reaffirmed the assumption that it is necessary to continue to educate patients especially on the danger of using antibiotics without a doctor´s prescription or of ignoring the prescribed regimen. According to the survey, 92% of patients trust doctors regarding the necessity of using antibiotics to treat their conditions; however, 34.7% of doctors feel pressure to prescribe antibiotics even when not necessary. C-reactive protein testing and cultivation of blood, urine or sputum samples are recognized as valuable methods to improve decision-making about administration of antibiotics and should be used as much as possible.

"The excessive use of antibiotics requires taking comprehensive measures in antibiotic policy that would change the attitude towards the use of antibiotics not only in the professional public but also in society," states Dr Tomas Tesar, member of a drug policy commission that categorizes medicines at the Ministry of Health.

Antibiotic resistance is a problem with similar causes all over the world, requiring a global solution. WHO posters and infographics were translated into Slovakian and widely distributed to physicians´ offices, and public health institutes made them available to the general public.

Slovak Patient – NGO launched and regularly updates a website ("A life without antibiotics") with extensive information, case studies and success stories, and online counselling.

WAAW will also serve to intensify the work on standards and guidelines for antibiotic prescription and administration with special focus on primary care where 80% of these medicines are prescribed. Nosocomial infections are equally important, as more progress could be made in this area in Slovakia. A new publication of epidemiology of nosocomial infections in hospitals is another important product aligned with WAAW.

All partners expressed their commitment to build on WAAW's achievements and effectively counteract antibiotic resistance, so these drugs remain available for future generations.