Antibiotics are vital medicines in the treatment of bacterial infections. Their effectiveness, however, is threatened by the spread of drug-resistant bacterial strains. Described by England’s Chief Medical Officer as a “catastrophic threat”, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is estimated to cause 700,000 deaths per year globally.
The UN Environment report Frontiers 2017: Emerging Issues of Environmental Concern links growing AMR to the discharge of drugs and particular chemicals into the environment and identifies this as one of the most worrying health threats today. Experts view the promotion of antibiotic resistant bacteria as “the greatest human health concern” posed by the presence of pharmaceutical residues in the environment and note that, in addition to fostering the spread of resistant pathogens, antibiotic residues can also turn harmless environmental bacteria into carriers of resistance.
HCWH Europe’s vision is that healthcare mobilises its ethical, economic, and political influence to create an ecologically sustainable, equitable and healthy world. One of our over-arching goals is to transform the supply chain, to leverage healthcare’s purchasing power to drive policies and markets for ethically produced, healthy, and sustainable products and services. The environmental impacts of products and services procured for the healthcare sector (such as pharmaceuticals) should be considered in purchasing decisions in order to ensure that the sector takes a holistic approach to protecting human health and strives to truly “do no harm”.
As part of our Safer Pharma campaign, we have developed a survey, the first of this kind at the EU level, aimed at hospitals and health systems to investigate best practices to tackle AMR in the healthcare systems across Europe.
Responses to the survey will be put together in a compendium of case studies, which will subsequently be published online and in the form of a report. The aim of publishing these case studies and report is to provide examples of best practice for other hospitals and health systems, and also to inform policy makers and pharmaceutical manufacturers about leading initiatives on the ground (and the need for them).