Preventing antimicrobial resistance together

Bern, 18.11.2022 – From 18 to 24 November 2022, the international community is turning its attentions to antimicrobial resistance. The aim is to raise global awareness of the topic among the general public, professionals and policymakers.

Four international organisations are coordinating the "World Antimicrobial Awareness Week":

  • World Health Organization (WHO)
  • World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH)
  • UN Environment Programme (UNEP)
  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

This awareness week is a global campaign that takes place annually. It seeks to improve awareness and understanding of antimicrobial resistance and promote established practices among the general public, stakeholders and policymakers. This year, all involved sectors are being called to work together under a One Health approach, which takes the health of humans, animals and the environment into account. In Switzerland, the Awareness Week focuses on antibiotic resistance.

Antibiotic resistance

Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria no longer respond or are less responsive to antibiotics. The emergence of resistant bacteria is a worldwide problem for people and animals. Today, micro-organisms are not only becoming increasingly resistant to individual antibiotics, but also to several antibiotic classes at once (known as multi-resistance). Infections caused by multi-resistant bacteria are difficult or even impossible to treat using antibiotics. The main cause of this is the overuse and misuse of antibiotics. Moreover, globalisation means that resistance is steadily spreading around the world. As a result, the treatments available to date are becoming less effective, leading to a rise in the incidence of illness and fatalities.

Global awareness plan launched in 2015

The urgent nature of this threat has been acknowledged on the international political level: in 2015, a global awareness plan was launched to combat the growing problem of resistance to antibiotics and other antimicrobials. One of its main objectives is to improve awareness and understanding of antibiotic resistance through effective communication, education and training.

The situation in Switzerland

The Federal Council launched the Strategy on Antibiotic Resistance (StAR) in 2015. Since then, Switzerland has addressed the problem across a range of sectors (the One Health approach). A key part of the strategy involves monitoring resistance and antibiotic use across Switzerland, in humans, livestock, pets and the environment. The findings of the monitoring have been published in the Swiss Antibiotic Resistance Report (SARR) every two years since 2016.

This year's report shows that doctors and veterinarians have been prescribing fewer and fewer antibiotics in recent years and that overall use is declining. However, there are marked regional differences within Switzerland. In a European comparison, Switzerland remains one of the countries with the lowest consumption.

Last modification 18.11.2022

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