Cross-programme consultation: medication safety – the contribution of primary care in reducing antimicrobial resistance

30 October–1 November 2018, Almaty, Kazakhstan

The WHO European Centre for Primary Health Care, WHO/Europe’s health technologies and pharmaceuticals programme and WHO headquarters’ patient safety and risk management unit will relaunch the European conversation on one of the most challenging issues facing health systems today – antimicrobial consumption.

The consultation at the Kazakh National Medical University aims to bring together relevant stakeholders and their perspectives around the agenda of using antibiotic medicines responsibly and reducing the harm associated with medication. Participants will focus on the role of primary health care (PHC) in tackling antimicrobial resistance.

The event will launch Medication Without Harm, the third WHO Global Patient Safety Challenge, with a particular focus on using antibiotics safely and responsibly in PHC.

Most antimicrobials are consumed in community and outpatient settings – that is, outside hospitals. This places PHC at the centre of efforts to improve the responsible use of antibiotics. Bringing the right medicines to patients who need them requires engaging all actors; developing a vision of how to integrate public and private interests; and mobilizing resources. PHC practitioners, with the involvement of individuals and patients, can make a difference.

Globally, the estimated cost of medication errors is US$ 42 billion annually – almost 1% of global expenditure on health. Everyone, including patients and health-care professionals, has a role to play in ensuring medication safety.

Medication Without Harm is targeting the safety of medication practices while trying to reduce medication errors. Improving the systems and practices related to antibiotics – including selecting, prescribing, dispensing and administering them, and monitoring their use – is critical.

Participants will work together on how to coordinate PHC efforts to reduce antibiotic-related harm, and draft country roadmaps for moving towards prescription-only dispensing of antibiotics. The consultation will activate the network of country and subregional focal points as implementers.