Turkey takes strong action to reduce antibiotic consumption and resistance

Mesil Aksoy

Consumption of antibiotics in Turkey is among the highest across the WHO European Region, and antibiotic use is a major driver of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). To address this growing problem, Turkish health authorities have implemented a number of integrated interventions with WHO guidance and support. As a result, preliminary data show a declining trend in overall consumption.

Infection prevention and control: The Ministry of Health of Turkey supports hand hygiene to prevent AMR. Hand hygiene trainings are available in hospitals, and health workers’ compliance with hand hygiene is monitored. Hand hygiene is included in the Quality Standards in Health, the national accreditation system of Turkey.

Innovation: A new electronic prescription system has been developed to monitor and control the use of antibiotics. The system tracks prescription data and provides feedback to physicians. Turkey is a member of the WHO Antimicrobial Medicines Consumption Network, and its data comply with WHO international standards.

Surveillance: Turkey is among the countries that have pioneered AMR surveillance in the Region. The AMR surveillance system, introduced in 2011, has been strengthened over time and today counts 118 laboratories in its network.

Turkey is a member of the Central Asian and Eastern European Surveillance on Antimicrobial Resistance (CAESAR) network, a joint initiative of WHO/Europe and partners to survey, contain and prevent AMR emergence and spread. CAESAR data complement those collected in the European Union through the European Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance Network (EARS-Net) to enable data reporting that covers all countries of the Region. Since 2013, data from Turkey have been classified as high quality and reliable.

Policy: Drawing on surveillance data and WHO recommendations, Turkey developed its Rational Drug Use National Action Plan 2014–2017, which prioritizes the proper use of antibiotics. To operationalize the Plan locally, dedicated entities were established in 81 provinces with 500 staff working on advocacy initiatives.

Awareness-raising: WHO/Europe and Public Health England (PHE) made available a new Turkish version of Antibiotic Guardian, a web-based campaign initiated by PHE in 2014. Antibiotic Guardian urges everyone to pledge to make better use of antibiotics and help save these vital medicines from becoming obsolete. So far, more than 50 000 people have pledged their support and become Antibiotic Guardians.