Population survey regarding antibiotic resistance

A preliminary survey among the Swiss population regarding antibiotics and the problem of antibiotic resistance provides important  insights for the implementation of the StAR strategy  

The majority of the Swiss population is well informed about the effects of antibiotics, and trusts the medical practitioner to prescribe  antibiotics appropriately. Most people are also aware that the unnecessary use of antibiotics decreases their effectiveness. This is shown by a survey among the Swiss population that was conducted in 2016 on the issue of antibiotic resistance.

Improving knowledge and correcting misconceptions

The results show that people are generally well informed about antibiotics and use them responsibly. It is important to maintain this  level of awareness in future. However, the survey also revealed a lack of clarity and certain knowledge gaps. For example, there is  some misunderstanding (especially among younger people) of antibiotics and their use against the flu and colds. It will be important  to provide all members of the society with specific information about antibiotics. Awareness and easy access to reliable information  are required if patients, doctors, pharmacists and other concerned individuals – also from the veterinary and agricultural sector – are to share the responsibility and ensure that effective antibiotics will also be available in future. Antibiotic resistance concerns not only  humans, but animals and the environment as well. This is why the Strategy on Antibiotic Resistance Switzerland (StAR) is addressing this challenge through an interdisciplinary One Health approach.

Observing future developments with regard to the use of antibiotics

The survey results are based on statements by people who were interviewed regarding their personal antibiotic consumption and their knowledge of the effects of antibiotics. The population survey was conducted by Demoscope on behalf of the Federal Office of Public Health from 24 August to 6 September, 2016. Future developments in the Swiss population can be tracked using the data  from this survey as a baseline. In order to ensure comparability with countries from Europe, this survey is based largely on the Eurobarometer survey on antimicrobial resistance in the EU (Special Eurobarometer 445, 2016). Compared with the survey results  from the EU, Switzerland has a rather low antibiotic consumption and a relatively high level of awareness, similar to the Netherlands,  Germany, Denmark and Sweden.   

Appropriate application of antibiotics by doctors and patients is essential

On 18 November 2015, the Swiss Federal Council adopted the national strategy against antibiotic resistance (StAR) in order to  ensure the effectiveness of antibiotics for humans and animals over the long term. In particular, the excessive and partly incorrect  use of antibiotics means that an increasing number of species of bacteria has become resistant to their use. The increase in  resistance to important types of antibiotics and the increasing spread of bacteria that are resistant to several types of antibiotics  (multi-resistant bacteria) are a significant concern and constitute a considerable risk to public health. In Switzerland, the purchase of  antibiotics requires a medical prescription and their use is relatively low by comparison with other European countries. Nevertheless, it is important that the population is conscious of the importance and significance of the correct application of antibiotics, and that  people are aware of the relevant issues. By taking antibiotics correctly, patients make a significant contribution to maintaining the  effectiveness of these medications.  

Last modification 18.05.2017

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