Incorrect use of antibiotics leads to increasingly dangerous, multi-drug resistant bacteria, the OECD criticizes in its current health report. But the occurrence of such „super germs“ there are big international differences – also in Europe.
How many and which bacterial pathogens are resistant to antibiotics varies from country to country, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) latest Health Report. Accordingly, Austria has a resistance rate of nine percent below the OECD average of 17 percent. By contrast, in Turkey or Greece, the average resistance rates of 35 percent are seven times higher than in Iceland, the Netherlands and Norway, where only five percent of the bacterial pathogens are multi-drug resistant.
One reason for this is the lack of a prescription requirement for antibiotics, says Infectiologist Petra Apfalter, Head of the Reference Center for Antibiotic Resistance at the Hospital Elisabethinen in Linz: „In some southern European countries, the antibiotics are at the checkout next to the chewing gum, and customers can at your discretion at a dose that you consider yourself and over a period of time that you deem appropriate. “
The OECD therefore calls for uniform, international standards in the use of antibiotics and simple preventive measures, such as better hospital hygiene, washing hands more often, prescribing antibiotics less frequently, and faster diagnosis of bacterial or viral infections. Because antibiotics only work against bacterial pathogens, but not in viral infections.
Less prescribe, but more effective
Apfalter attributes the fact that Iceland, the Netherlands and Norway are so successful in terms of multi-resistant pathogens. This includes the construction of hospitals. „There are only single rooms there, which of course prevents the spread of such pathogens,“ says Apfalter. In Austria, however, single rooms in hospitals are often perceived as isolation. „There is a different culture in dealing with patients,“ says the infectiologist.
This also comes with the prescription of antibiotics to fruition. In low-resistance countries, specialist recommendations have always focused on specific substances with a narrow spectrum of activity, explains Apfalter. In other countries, also in Austria, on the other hand, more widespread use is made of so-called broad-spectrum antibiotics, which attack not only certain pathogens, but a whole series of bacteria.
Prevent 1.6 million deaths
However, there are far too few international efforts to combat the growing number of antibiotic-resistant pathogens, criticizes the OECD. With no prevention measures in place, 2.4 million people in Europe, North America and Australia could die from such infections, according to the report. If a preventive strategy succeeds, 1.6 million lives could be saved over the next 30 years.