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March 23, 2023
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Romania Tops Antibiotic Consumption Among European Countries – ECDC Study

Antibiotics consumption rates in Romania rank first among European countries according to a new European Center for disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) study addressing the 18 November symbolic day known as European Antibiotic Awareness Day.

Surprisingly, Romania maintained the same rates as ten years ago in 2012, with more than 25 daily dosages delivered per 1,000 people. Consumption at the European Union level is capped at 16 daily dosages per 1.000 people.

This is a serious problem given that antimicrobial resistance, is the third greatest cause of global mortality, fueled by the misuse of antibiotics. Moreover, this is one of the most significant public health issues on the continent is the rise in bacterial resistance brought on by an overuse of antibiotics. Out of almost 5 million fatalities worldwide in 2019 linked to antibiotic resistance, 1.3 million were directly attributed to it.

Source: ECDC

Technically, Romania has not succeeded to adopted any efficient measures to reduce the excessive and unnecessary use of antibiotics in the past ten years, compared to other adversary countries. For example, Belgium, which registered almost the same rates as Romania in 2012, managed to reduce this to 17,4 daily doses per 1,000 people by 2021.

In comparison to these prospects, the Netherlands consumes the fewest antibiotics, three times less than Romania, and Bulgaria despite having a better rate than Romania, it is showcasing a steady and rapid growth year by year.

The worrying aspect that the ECDC notes and points at for countries such as Bulgaria, and Romania, is that the bulk of antibiotics are not used within hospitals, bur rather outside within the community.

The report also demonstrates the usage of various antibiotic strains varying according to each country, for example in Romania where Penicillin is the most frequently given antibiotic.

Source: ECDC

What is the underlying reason for this issue in Romania?

The European Antibiotic World Awareness Day, sets the start of the World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW), commencing November 18 to November 24.

This gives empowered institutions worldwide to accumulate research from previous years and the current year, compare it to the current situation of the population, and create a study or a campaign based on the countries they represent, in order to point at the issue root and find proper solutions and measurements.

In Romania, the Global Respiratory Infection Partnership (GRIP) together with the support of Reckitt, initiated in May 2022 the Sore Throat & Antibiotic Resistance (STAR) study. The study indicates how widely antibiotics are overused to treat simple health problems such as sore throats. Despite the proven knowledge that antibiotics are useless for 9 out of 10 sore throats, the study revealed that more than half of the individuals polled had taken antibiotics for a respiratory condition such a sore throat in the previous six months. Such is the case for Romania’s rooting cause of antibiotic abuse.

“The cold season is in, and we are seeing an explosion of cases of viruses in both adults and children. In Romania, we still face often patients who come to the offices or pharmacy to ask for antibiotics to treat simple colds or sore throats. It is important to increase education so that we have the weapons to treat more serious infections that really need antimicrobials.”

Dr. Dina Mergeani, President of the National Society of Family Medicine

There are some key findings about Romania, that we managed to collect with the help of MedicHub press release, emphasized from the STAR survey for respondents aged 25 to 34.

  • They believe antibiotics are effective for sore throats – 49%
  • They lack the necessary information to treat respiratory illnesses outside of antibiotics – 36%
  • They would be anxious to receive antibiotic-free treatment for respiratory illnesses – 23%
  • They believe that antibiotics reduce pain and symptoms fast – 57%
  • They fully agree that antibiotics function well for treating colds and flu – 54%
  • They consider that antibiotics should be allowed to buy on request from the pharmacy without prescription- 42%
  • They consider themselves to be quite knowledgeable about how antibiotics treat respiratory infections – 69%
  • Concern about antibiotic resistance – 63%
  • They are interested in knowing more about antibiotic resistance – 49%

These key findings point towards the lack of proper education and towards the importance of such education, about antibiotics usage, antibiotic resistance, and other types of symptomatic treatments. This was seen especially among the younger part of the population, representing the younger millennials and gen Z. Moreover, it underlines the problem that Romanians don’t undergo proper health check-ups to acknowledge from early stages any diseases they may have, to which they rely on unappropriate antibiotics.

“It is important for Romanians to understand how we can correctly treat a common cold or sore throat by resorting to symptomatic treatments. The campaign we are launching aims to bring awareness to antibiotic consumption habits and to educate about the role of antibiotics and other medicines in treating upper respiratory infections.”

Dr. Vlad Budu, Executive President of the Romanian Society of Rinology

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