Developing strategy on antibacterial resistance

The Standing Committee of the Regional Committee, part of WHO/Europe’s governing body, has approved a concept paper on WHO/Europe’s developing a strategy to contain antibacterial resistance. This is an important step to tackle a growing health threat in the WHO European Region.

In the last 70 years, tremendous progress has been made in reducing infectious diseases through a number of preventive measures, including the use of antibacterial agents (also called antibiotics) that prevent and/or treat bacterial infections. Nevertheless, in recent years microbes have emerged that are resistant to previously effective drugs. The overuse, misuse and underuse of antibiotics have led to increases in and the emergence of new mechanisms of resistance.

The increased use of antibiotics in the food industry can lead to the further emergence of resistant bacteria and genes that threat human health. Each year, such bacteria kill 25 000 people in the European Union. Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), resistant to the most important first-line TB drugs (isoniazid and rifampicin) and extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB), resistant to first- and second-line drugs, are particular concerns in the WHO European Region.

Events focusing on antimicrobial resistance

WHO has made antimicrobial and antibacterial resistance the theme of World Health Day on 7 April 2011. It will be an opportunity for the European Commission, the European Forum of Medical Associations and other partners of  WHO to address this important issue. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) holds European Antibiotic Awareness Day each year on 18 November, to inform the public and health professionals on the effective use of antibiotics, and the risks in using them.

Standing Committee

The Standing Committee of the Regional Committee (SCRC), a subcommittee of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe, acts for and represents the Regional Committee between its annual meetings. SCRC comprises representatives of twelve countries, with each member elected by the Regional Committee to serve for three years.