Antibiotic resistance

Antibiotic resistance is an increasing problem. The treatment of many infections, including common infections, is becoming more difficult. There are few effective antibiotics left for fighting certain bacteria.

Antibiotic resistance has been around for as long as bacteria exist. Constantly, new bacteria arise that can neutralize the effect of antibiotics thanks to genetic adaptation. This genetic information is often readily transmitted to other bacteria. As a result, resistance markers may spread rapidly. If antibiotics are administered at that point, resistant bacteria are at a growth advantage compared to others and can multiply quickly.

Resistance does not only develop during antibiotic treatments in human medicine but also when antibiotics are used in veterinary medicine and in animal and plant production. In addition, resistent bacteria can either be transmitted via surfaces or directly from person to person or from animal to person. Avoiding the transmission of resistent bacteria is a key element of infection prevention and hospital epidemiology in healthcare institutions.

The development of every new antibiotic is sooner or later followed by the development of resistance. Therefore, it is important that research and development of new antimicrobial substances continues. It is also critical that the use of antibiotics is limited to the minimum in order to stop this rapid downward spiral. We need to ensure that antibiotic treatment is still available for the following generations.

The Antibiotic Resistance Strategy for Switzerland precisely pursues these objectives. The strategy is part of the health policy priorities of the federal government in their agenda «Health2020» and was passed by the federal council in November of 2015. The national implementation started in 2016.