WHO/ECDC report: antimicrobial resistance threatens patient safety in European Region

Press release

The second “Surveillance of antimicrobial resistance in Europe” report, published jointly by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and WHO/Europe on 14 April 2023, shows high percentages of resistance to last-line antibiotics, such as carbapenems, in several countries of the WHO European Region. The report features data from 2021.

Higher levels of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) were reported in the southern and eastern parts of the European Region, as compared to the north and west. AMR is a serious threat to health in the region and many countries have limited treatment options for patients with infections caused by these pathogens.

“Current patterns, such as increases in carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter species that are difficult to eradicate once endemic, underline the need to further enhance efforts to prevent and detect resistance” noted Dr Danilo Lo Fo Wong, WHO Regional Adviser for the Control of Antimicrobial Resistance.

“As antibiotic-resistant bacteria continue to emerge, further efforts are needed to improve infection prevention and control practices, reduce unnecessary antimicrobial use, design and implement antimicrobial stewardship programmes, and ensure adequate microbiological capacity”, said Dominique Monnet, ECDC Head of Section for Antimicrobial Resistance and Healthcare-associated Infections.

In the European Region, 2 regional networks gather and present AMR surveillance data for almost all the 53 Member States of the Region: the European Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance Network (EARS-Net) and the Central Asian and European Surveillance of Antimicrobial Resistance (CAESAR) network.

In 2021, more countries and laboratories were reporting data to these networks, compared to 2020. However, 16% of countries indicated that they still only collected AMR data at local level and without a standardized approach.

Most countries in the Region have developed national action plans on AMR – including comprehensive programmes and interventions on infection prevention and control, antimicrobial stewardship and surveillance. The challenge ahead is to ensure that these have high-level support and robust funding to tackle the threat from AMR.