What is AMR

Unnecessary and inappropriate prescribing of antibiotics, along with inadequate Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) measures play a crucial role in the growing issue of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) and the spread of multi-drug resistant organisms. AMR is now a significant global public health threat, significantly increasing the morbidity and mortality of patients, especially in the paediatric population.

A recent and complete systematic analysis has provided data about the global burden of bacterial AMR, estimating 4.95 million deaths associated with bacterial AMR in 2019. The pediatric population is severely affected, with deaths in children under 5 years representing 20% of the total(link).

UNICEF has estimated that 40% of deaths among children under 5 years of age worldwide in 2016 were caused by diseases directly affected by AMR(link).

In 2015, infants under one year of age in the EU presented the highest burden of attributable deaths and disability-adjusted life-years caused by infections with antibiotic-resistant bacteria (link) Southern European countries, in particular, present the highest rates of AMR in Europe.

In the past, AMR has been overcome by introducing new broad-spectrum agents. However, there has been a steady decline in the development of new antimicrobials since the 1980s.

The development of country-level and institutional antimicrobial stewardship programs (AMS) are now considered key instruments to tackle this threat. They are defined as a set of coordinated interventions designed to reduce inappropriate antimicrobial use, prevent resistance, enhance patients’ safety and lower healthcare costs without compromising patient outcomes.

Although the AMR fight remains a high priority, focused, organized, and systematic efforts to improve prescribing and reduce the spread of infection are still lacking in pediatric settings in Europe.