Symposium and workshop mark World Antibiotic Awareness Week in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

Studiorum

With a series of events and activities, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia marked European Antibiotic Awareness Day (EAAD) and World Antibiotic Awareness Week (WAAW) in November 2017.

The Association of Family Medicine Specialists’ Respiratory Group and the Medical Faculty of the Skopje Center for Family Medicine organized the 3rd Symposium on Antibiotics in Primary Care. The event, entitled “Respiratory tract infections – beliefs/evidence/practice”, took place on 17–19 November.

Dr Radmila Ristovska, President of the Association of Family Medicine Specialists’ Respiratory Group, moderated the opening ceremony. Dr Goce Chakarovski, Deputy Minister of Health, and Dr Katarina Stavrikj, President of the Symposium Scientific Committee and Director of the University Clinic for Children’s Diseases, addressed participants.

Following the opening, a satellite workshop organized with support from WHO/Europe and the WHO Country Office focused on the rational use of antibiotics in hospitals. This was part of preparations for an evidence brief for policy (EBP) supported by the Evidence-informed Policy Network (EVIPNet) and WHO/Europe’s antimicrobial resistance (AMR) programme. Over 40 practitioners, policy-makers and academics participated in the workshop.

Dr Neda Milevska Kostova, Executive Director of the Center for Regional Policy Research and Cooperation Studiorum, presented ways to use practice to inform policies. She also gave an overview of the EBP on reducing antibiotic use at the hospital level as an introduction to the workshop discussions.

Dr Jeroen Schouten and Dr Marlies Hulscher, consultants from the Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands; Dr Golubinka Boshevska, National AMR Coordinator at the National Institute of Public Health; and Dr Katarina Stavrikj moderated the discussions. Participants’ input and conclusions will inform the EBP’s collection of interventions and options suitable for addressing the issue in the national context through pilot projects in 2 hospitals.

Dr Jeroen Schouten and Dr Marlies Hulscher also delivered a lecture to the medical staff at the University Clinic for Children’s Diseases and guest doctors from the Clinical Hospital in Bitola on 17 November. This was followed by discussions of the current situation of antibiotic use and possibilities for developing specific antimicrobial stewardship interventions for these 2 hospitals.

The Symposium gathered doctors and specialists from primary, secondary and tertiary care, as well as academics and officials from the Ministry of Health and the Health Insurance Fund. They shared their experiences and discussed possibilities for strengthening the prudent use of antibiotics by intensifying communication among practitioners and educating patients.

Ms Angelina Bacanovik from the Ministry of Health, Ms Kristina Hristova from the Health Insurance Fund and Dr Katarina Stavikj moderated the roundtable discussion “From research to practice”. There, Dr Golubinka Boshevska presented the draft national strategy to fight AMR for 2017–2021 and opened the discussion on its proposed objectives and activities.

Key conclusions and recommendations highlighted the necessity of updating current clinical guidelines, and of establishing multidisciplinary antibiotic stewardship teams in hospitals to play an advisory role in promoting prudent and guidelines-based prescribing practices.

The country also actively participated in the WAAW 2017 global interactive platform to extend the reach of its important message: keep antibiotics safe for future generations.