World Antibiotic Awareness Week 2016 in Poland

Klaudia Borowa

AMR Q&A session on the Polish Radio

For the second time Poland has actively marked World Antibiotic Awareness Week (WAAW), held this year on 14–20 November 2016. WAAW is a WHO initiative, adopted at the Sixty-eighth World Health Assembly in 2015. Its main aim is to emphasize the seriousness of the threat to public health posed by antibiotic resistance.

Poland’s WAAW programme was jointly organized by the Ministry of Health, National Antibiotic Awareness Programme, National Institute of Public Health and WHO Country Office in Poland. A strong message, “Antibiotics: Handle with Care”, was disseminated across the country via various media, including Facebook, Twitter, TV and radio interviews and many others. The key event was a press conference held on 18 November at the National Institute of Public Health’s National Institute of Hygiene, which gathered over 50 participants including media representatives, public health experts, doctors and scientists. All active participants from the Ministry of Health, National Institute of Public Health, National Institute of Drugs and European Food Safety Agency spoke in one voice as Antibiotic Guardians. Promotional infographics and other information materials were distributed in the national languages and gathered wide interest from general public.

Dr Paulina Karwowska, Head of the WHO Country Office in Poland, stressed the role of intersectoral collaboration for protection of antibiotics in her opening presentation. She added: “the success of the Sustainable Development Goals depends on how well we tackle antimicrobial resistance, working not only to achieve Goal 3 on good health and well-being but also the goals related to people’s livelihoods, food production and the environment”.

During the conference the results were presented of a recent survey conducted among 100 primary care physicians in Poland (internists, family doctors, general practitioners and paediatricians) on their approaches to prescribing antibiotics and knowledge of drug resistance. These showed that patients often try to “force” doctors to prescribe antibiotics, which highlights the need to educate the public about what antibiotics are and how they work. Many physicians also meet with requests from adults for antibiotics for themselves when accompanying children to medical appointments. The survey revealed that only a small percentage of doctors are aware that a lack of hygiene significantly contributes to the spread of drug resistance.

Poland recognizes the importance of antibiotic awareness and is taking coordinated action to combat this public health threat. The National Antibiotic Awareness Programme has been renewed by Ministry of Health for 2016–2020.