Antibiotic resistance is a growing threat to global health. As a result of infection with drug-resistant bacteria an estimated 700 000 people die each year worldwide. A total of around 33 000 die annually in the European Union and European Economic Area, and this number is increasing all the time.
Many of the same microbes (e.g. bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites) affect both animals and humans via the environment they share and 60% of all human diseases originate in animals. This means that when microbes develop drug resistance in animals, they can easily go on to affect humans, making it difficult to treat diseases and infections.
“Human, animal and environment health are all equally responsible for the correct use of antimicrobials and to avert the threat of antimicrobial resistance,” said Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe. “As we strive to ensure that antibiotics are rightly used in the community and in health-care settings, one sector alone will not solve the problem. A ‘One Health’ approach brings together professionals in human, animal, food and environment health as one force, and as such is the only way to keep antibiotics working. I call on all European countries to secure the highest commitment to this approach from the whole of society and the whole of government.”
“With 33 000 deaths each year as a consequence of an infection due to bacteria resistant to antibiotics and €1 billion in annual health-care expenditure, we need to ensure that antibiotics are used prudently and that infection prevention measures are in place in all settings across Europe,” stated Andrea Ammon, Director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). She added, “Since the rates of antibiotic resistance and the rates of antibiotic consumption as well as infection prevention practices vary from country to country, it is essential to tailor strategies to address specific needs. ECDC calls for continued action at all levels”.
This year, the WHO European Region will mark the 4th annual World Antibiotic Awareness Week on 12–18 November, by committing to closer collaboration across sectors to protect human, animal and environment health, in the spirit of One Health.