Doctors with no means to treat seriously ill patients. This nightmare vision will become a reality if we do not succeed in halting bacterial resistance to antibiotics.
The rise of resistant bacteria is the result of several developments which are mutually reinforcing. Demographic ageing and an increase in the number of chronically ill people means more people are vulnerable to infection. At the same time, bacteria are becoming steadily smarter, which means new antibiotics are needed. But the development of these new treatments is stagnating because doctors are becoming more reluctant to prescribe them. This gives manufacturers less incentive to develop new antibiotics. Besides, there is a big need for appropriate diagnostics and appropriate use of antibiotics. The development of new antibiotics alone will not be sufficient to tackle antibiotic resistance (ABR).
Antibiotic resistance is a problem that does not adhere to national borders, and is something that concerns us all. As the Netherlands, we play a leading role and we try to keep the problem under control by tackling it through various strategies: from the development of new therapies to surveillance and the development of interventions. As the Netherlands and globally, it is urgent to continue to invest in research and innovation in the field of antibiotic resistance. Developing an infection with a resistant bacterium is something that can happen to anyone. We must strive to continue to combat the rise in the risk of antibiotic resistance. Because it cannot not be the case that in the future more people will die from an infection with a resistant bacterium than from cancer !? (see, among others, the article in The Washington Times). Read here what ZonMw is doing to tackle the problem.
On behalf of the Netherlands we participate in the international joint venture Joint Programming Initiative on Antimicrobial Resistance (JPIAMR). JPIAMR is a partnership in which member states work together on the topic of antimicrobial resistance, with support from the European Commission. Currently, 27 countries participate in JPIAMR. JPIAMR, among other things, opens joint grant calls for research. The JPIAMR is also launching a virtual research institute. This dynamic network of research facilities in the field of antimicrobial resistance provides a worldwide platform for scientific cooperation and research capacity. More information can be found here.
Furthermore, we are participating in the Livestock and Human Health Knowledge Platform, along with the National Institute of Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), Wageningen University & Research, Utrecht University, GGD GHOR Nederland, Omgevingsdienst NL and LTO. The goal is to group, interpret and publicise existing knowledge on livestock farming and the health of humans and animals. More information on the knowledge platform and the themes:
More information on the research areas covered by the Antimicrobial Resistance programme is given on the ABR poster.
17 current projects
The situation is not yet alarming in the Netherlands. We are generally in a good state of health, have good healthcare and a sensible antibiotics policy. The resistance problem is therefore relatively minor here. But the Netherlands is not an island. We have open borders, and part of our resistance problem is imported. People who travel to distant countries risk bringing resistant bacteria back to the Netherlands. In many countries, particularly in Southeast Asia, the resistance problem is much greater. Doctors there are much more generous when it comes to prescribing antibiotics than their counterparts in the Netherlands. In some countries antibiotics are even freely available.
Resistant bacteria are found in people, animals and the environment. Knowledge from all these disciplines is needed to realize an effective approach to antibiotic resistance. This approach is known as 'One Health' and is stimulated within ZonMw's ABR and JPIAMR programme.
This factsheet provides a quick overview of essential and promising projects, related to livestock, that set out to reduce the global AMR problem. Factsheet