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Ber Oomen, Executive Director, ESNO, European Specialist Nurses Organisation

Despite the many meetings at European level, and funding for research and data collection Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) continues to concern many health stakeholders. The initiatives at EU and national level, in which ENSO is also involved, as well as the Joint Action on AMR and Healthcare-Associated infections are important actions to be welcomed. There are also a great number of position statements and calls for action, but these are not enough on their own to turn the tide, especially when they are not being transformed into concrete activities to stop the spread of drug-resistant infections.

Every day nurses are asked “If you can’t give me antibiotics, what is the alternative?”. Not enough is being done to educate and support healthcare professionals or to ensure the well-intentioned plans crafted at European or national level reach the coalface.  Nurses’ contribution to the debate has been overlooked for too long, particularly when they are so strongly involved.  Nurses are themselves personally affected by AMR, dispensing antibiotics and often themselves coming into contact with drug-resistant infections.  Many nurses also often ask themselves if they are culpable in the rise of AMR. The problem of Healthcare Associated Infections is far greater than many realise, and it is feared the reported cases are just the tip of the iceberg.

ESNO and its members have put together a number of plans and are developing the right competences, skills and attitudes but nurses cannot do this alone. ESNO has created a programme to educate and inform nurses and is currently developing a communication guide. However, funding is still needed to develop this plan further..

ESNO is strongly committed to make a difference, not only in tackling AMR, but also to increase awareness about the importance of vaccination and preventing diseases in the first place which have the potential to develop into drug-resistant infections.  We also recognise the need to avoid working in silos and for ways to be found for all stakeholders to work together.

ESNO’s Information and Communication Guide on AMR to ensure that nurses across Europe can access accurate, consistent information on drug resistance is due to be published April 2020. It is our belief that if all nurses throughout Europe were to receive specific education on AMR, it could make a huge difference.

It is in all Europeans’ interest that we develop our understanding of microbes, our attitude to health, where and where not to intervene, and where we use rather than fight nature. Supporting and recognising the role of competent health professionals and specialist nurses can help to achieve this goal.

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