Together with his Royal Highness the King of the Netherlands, the Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport, Edith Schippers, and the State Secretary for Economic Affairs, Sharon Dijksma, visited UMC Utrecht on 6 October 2015. The visit focused on the approach to antibiotic resistance.
“We have seen how antibiotic resistance is being combatted in a hospital and at a livestock farm. Now it is a case of ensuring that this happens everywhere,” said minister Schippers. “Major steps have already been taken to reduce antibiotic use but we have not done enough yet. For human and animal health it is important that we reduce this use even further still,” said state secretary Dijksma.
The working visit by the King, the minister and the state secretary started with a tour through the laboratory and around the Intensive Care Department of UMC Utrecht. Professors from UMC Utrecht explained the methods used to prevent infection in highly vulnerable patients. They demonstrated how the hospital tries to prevent infections in everyday practice and continually tries to improve the use of antibiotics. Following the tour a meeting took place with experts from healthcare and animal health about solutions for antibiotic resistance.
Due to the use of antibiotics, a growing number of bacterial species are insensitive for their effect. Consequently illnesses that are now easy to treat could become life threatening again in the future. As antibiotics are used to treat infections in both people and animals, the approach to tackling antibiotic resistance lies in both healthcare and livestock farming. This broad, integrated approach is called One Health. Antibiotic resistance is a cross-disciplinary problem and one of the subjects on the agenda during the Dutch Presidency of the EU in the first half of 2016.
The Netherlands has a lot of expertise to develop solutions for the problem of antibiotic resistance. For example, the universities of Utrecht, Wageningen and Rotterdam have taken the initiative to consolidate this expertise in the Netherlands Centre for One Health (NCOH). In addition, UMC Utrecht leads a project that is setting up a European research network of hospitals where new antibiotics can be tested faster and more efficiently so that they become available sooner for patients.
A visit was also made to the Verwoert veal farm. During the tour through the barns, the farmer explained how he works together with a vet to prevent infections in the calves and to realise a low and careful use of antibiotics.