Belgium is currently developing a One World One Health action plan to tackle antimicrobial resistance.

Antimicrobial resistance, also known as AMR, is one of the greatest threats to public health today and in the future.  For many years, Belgium has been active in the fight against AMR, both in the field of human health and in the field of animal farming, and aims to reduce and improve the use of antimicrobial agents (and antibiotics in particular), in order to avoid the development and spread of resistant germs.  However, our figures regarding the use of antimicrobial agents and the resistance show that more leadership and ambition are needed to reverse the situation.

Furthermore, evidence shows that there is transmission of resistant bacteria between humans, animals and the environment, and that a cross-sectoral and multidisciplinary approach is required.  This national plan is based on a common “One World, One Health” approach, in which everyone is responsible for part of the problem and works together to provide the best possible care for people and animals, safe food and a healthy environment for all citizens.  

The drafting of the plan is coordinated by the FPS Public Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment, which works in close collaboration with Sciensano, the Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products (FAMHP), the Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC), the National Institute for Health and Disability Insurance (NIHDI), BAPCOC (Belgian Antibiotic Policy Coordination Committee) and AMCRA (Knowledge Centre for the Use of Antibiotics and Antibiotic Resistance in Animals).

Why?

  1. International organisations, including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) who are working in partnership in tackling antimicrobial resistance (AMR), urge Member States to take action against AMR. Given the obvious and numerous interactions linking the human, animal and environmental aspects of this issue, any newly-implemented action plan should incorporate the "One World One Health" approach.
  2. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a sensitive issue, since in addition to public and animal health, it could undermine public trust in the safety of healthcare, food (of animal origin in particular) and the environment, when for example multidrug resistant organisms spread through healthcare-associated infections or foodstuffs. As such, the public expects the government to take care of this problem
  3. Besides the human costs, AMR also entails considerable economic costs, for hospitals, for health insurance systems, as well as for the agricultural sector. As a result, a wide range of stakeholders are affected by this issue and need to work together to achieve a common goal.
  4. Various activities and initiatives to fight AMR have been organised in Belgium in recent decades (including the creation of BAPCOC in 1999, AMCRA in 2011, the MDRO Task Force in 2013, and the antibiotic convention on veterinary medicine of 30/06/2016). Nevertheless, recent indicators show that additional efforts are necessary in several areas and that a renewed approach, enhancing the coordination and collaboration between the human and animal sectors and taking into account the environmental aspects of AMR, needs to be followed ("One World One Health" approach).

For soon?

Together with our partner administrations, at federal, community and regional level, and with the help of many experts and organisations such as BAPCOC and AMCRA, we have combined our strengths and knowledge and developed a new and ambitious action plan for the years 2020-2024. This Belgian national action plan is based on the three pillars of health (human health, animal health and environmental health) and suggests concrete actions to fight AMR in a comprehensive and coordinated way.  We are now ready to give new impetus to the fight against antibiotic and other antimicrobial resistance.

This draft plan was based on the recommendations Belgium received:


AMR in human health

  • BAPCOC, the Belgian Antibiotic Policy Coordination Committee, has been working since its creation in 1999 to tackle antimicrobial resistance. To achieve this, BAPCOC relies on several working groups (ambulatory medicine, hospital medicine, platforms for hospital hygiene, awareness-raising, and veterinary medicine). Currently, most of its activities are related to human health. BAPCOC has recently published the 2019 version of the Belgian guide to anti-infectious treatments in ambulatory practice (French only) (link to: http://www.cbip.be/fr/chapters/12?frag=8000010
    For more information:  https://organesdeconcertation.sante.belgique.be/fr/organe-d'avis-et-de-concertation/commissions/bapcoc 
  • Sciensano, the Belgian scientific institute One health, resulting from the merger between the former Veterinary and Agrochemical Research Centre (CERVA) and the former Scientific Institute of Public Health (ISP), carries out various missions relating to the monitoring of antibiotic resistance and healthcare-associated infections.
    For more information: : https://www.sciensano.be/fr/sujets-sante/resistance-aux-antibiotiques/role
  • The NIHDI, the National Institute for Health and Disability Insurance, is also involved in the fight against antimicrobial resistance, in particular by laying down the conditions for the reimbursement of medicines, collecting data on antibiotic prescriptions anddrafting 'antibiotic feedback' reports for GPs. For more information (French only):  : https://www.inami.fgov.be/fr/recherche/pages/default.aspx?k=antibiotiques
  • For more information on the activities of the FAMHP (Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products) in the fight against antibiotic resistance: : https://www.afmps.be/fr/info_patients/Antibiotiques
  • The Communities and Regions also implement activities relating to the fight against antimicrobial resistance

In October 2019, the Federal Public Service Public Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment (FPS PHFCSE) finalised an assessment report of the "National Strategic Plan to tackle MDROs" (MultiDrug Resistant Organisms). The aim of this plan is to prevent the further spread of MDRO and to reduce incidences of MDRO contamination. The terms of this agreement are set out in a memorandum of understanding which was published on 21/11/2013 in the Belgian Official Journal.

The FPS has consulted the institutional partners in the fight against MDROs on the implementation, interest, associated difficulties, and possible recommendations for the future of the various elements provided for in this memorandum of understanding, via a questionnaire. This assessment is part of the drafting of a One Health national action plan for antimicrobial resistance, to be established by December 2019, although it also goes beyond this.

Read this report (French only) : https://www.health.belgium.be/fr/rapport-devaluation-du-protocole-daccord-concernant-le-plan-national-multidrug-resistant-organismes

AMR in animal health

AMR and environment

The Directorate-General Environment of the FPS Public Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment (DGEM) coordinates the environmental activities of the action plan in collaboration with the Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products (FAMHP). The Regions also implement activities relating to the fight against antimicrobial resistance (e.g. groundwater and surface water analyses).

Events

Forthcoming : 

 

Past events :

A 'Policy Dialogue' on AMR was organised by the FPS PHFCSE and the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies on 22 and 23 November 2018. This meeting brought together around fifty Belgian actors active in the fight against antimicrobial resistance from the human health, animal health and environment sectors (representatives of the competent Ministers, competent administrations, knowledge centres and academics) as well as a dozen or so international experts. The aim was to develop a common understanding of the challenges related to AMR in Belgium, and to identify strategic objectives and priority actions. The programme and report of this policy dialogue can be found in the documents available below.