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Increased Antibiotic Use a Concern, Says Health Directorate

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Increased Antibiotic Use a Concern, Says Health Directorate

Pills.

Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

Antibiotic use among Icelanders increased by a little over 3% last year as compared to the year before, Kjarninn reports. The Directorate of Heath’s annual report on “Antibiotic Use and Antibiotic Receptivity in People and Animals in Iceland” did find, however, that Iceland’s use of antibiotics on animals is among the lowest in Europe.

The Directorate expressed a certain disappointment over the finding that Icelandic antibiotic use has gone up, particularly given that over the same time period, it’s gone down for people in other Nordic countries. It was found that antibiotic use has consistently been highest among patients aged 65 and older, followed by children aged five and under. Antibiotic use among the youngest patients did actually reduce between 2016 and 2017, and yet, when compared with previous years, antibiotic use among children was still on the rise during 2016. Antibiotic use among patients 65 and older has not experienced any such dips, but simply steadily increased over the years.

Antibiotic resistance is still relatively low in Iceland when compared to its neighboring countries. This has remained largely unchanged since 2016.

In April 2017, a working group under the supervision of the Health Minister submitted a report that outlined ten recommendations for fighting the spread of antibiotic resistance. These included recommendations on reducing the use of antibiotics among people, as well as monitoring antibiotic resistance in bacteria found in both foreign and domestic foodstuffs.

In 2018, efforts were made to increase awareness among doctors about the risks of over-prescribing antibiotics. The Directorate of Health hopes that this will lead to doctors reducing the amount of antibiotics prescribed to patients. Per the recommendation of the working group, foodstuffs also started to be monitored for antibiotic-resistant bacteria and research began on antibiotic resistance in general.

“Hopefully, all of these factors will prove useful in combating the spread of antibiotic resistance which is considered to be one of the most pressing health threats of our time,” concluded the Directorate of Health.

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