Luxembourg's Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture, Viticulture and Rural Development have renewed their information campaign on the use of antibiotics in humans and animals.
On the occasion of European Antibiotic Information Day on 18 November 2019, the aforementioned ministries have announced their attempts to raise awareness on the danger of the mass use of antibiotics in human and veterinary medicine in recent years. This campaign is part of the National Antibiotic Plan 2018-2022, which aims to reduce the emergence, development and transmission of antibiotic resistance in Luxembourg and to promote the responsible use of antibiotics.
In the European Union (EU), the number of human deaths due to infections by antibiotic-resistant bacteria is estimated at more than 33,000 deaths per year. There is currently a broad global consensus that the inappropriate use of antibiotics contributes to the magnification of antimicrobial resistance as it promotes the emergence and selection of resistant bacteria. As a result, an increasing number of infections are becoming increasingly difficult to treat, with antibiotics losing their effectiveness. The EU has estimated that the cost of health care and productivity losses due to antibiotic resistance amounts to €1.5 billion per year. In this context, a number actions have been taken aimed at monitoring the consumption of antibiotics in both human and veterinary medicine.
Although Luxembourg is the 8th largest consumer of antibiotics in Europe, outpatient antibiotic consumption has fallen significantly in recent years. The Grand Duchy is also one of the smallest consumers of antibiotics in veterinary medicine in Europe. Nevertheless, from a qualitative point of view concerning the choice of the appropriate antibiotics, additional efforts remain to be made.
Reducing the inappropriate use of antibiotics therefore remains a major public health issue for Luxembourg's ministers. As Étienne Schneider, Minister of Health, and Romain Schneider, Minister of Agriculture, Viticulture and Rural Development, have pointed out: "It is essential for everyone to contribute to solving this problem by applying the principle of reasoned and reasonable use of antibiotics". The two ministers also emphasised that the awareness campaign "Antibiotics: let's sound the alarm!" includes all sectors and stakeholders. Thus, it calls on the medical profession, health and care staff, pharmacists, patients, veterinarians, farmers and citizens in general to use antibiotics carefully and responsibly, in order to continue to have the effective weapons (antibiotics) against severe infections.
Indeed, most antibiotic prescriptions are made during the winter period, which is characterised by epidemics of acute respiratory diseases, such as influenza, colds, common coughs or tonsillitis, of which more than 80% are of viral origin. However, antibiotics are only effective against diseases caused by bacteria and have no efficacy against viruses.
This campaign will be widely distributed on social networks from Monday 18 November 2019. Communication materials in the form of posters, leaflets and flyers in several languages are also available from the health portal www.sante.lu.