Antimicrobial resistance in the Netherlands remains stable

Published on
June 25, 2020

The number of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics is increasing globally, but in the Netherlands this number has remained fairly stable and is lower than in many other countries. In 2019, there were hardly any increases in antimicrobial resistance in the Netherlands. The resistance of some bacterial species to certain antibiotics even decreased slightly compared to the previous years. The number of bacteria that are resistant to multiple antibiotics, and therefore more difficult to treat, has also remained stable. However, it is important to remain vigilant and closely monitor developments in this field.

In the annual NethMap/MARAN report for 2020, various organisations have jointly presented the data they have collected on antibiotic use and antimicrobial resistance in the Netherlands in both humans and animals.

Correct use

To prevent resistance developing, it is important to use antibiotics correctly and only when necessary. In the past year, GPs have prescribed slightly less antibiotics than in the previous years. Total antibiotic use is still increasing slightly in hospitals.

Antibiotic use and resistance in farm animals

Veterinarians prescribed fewer antibiotics in 2019 than in 2018. Compared to 2009, the reference year, sales of antibiotics decreased by almost 70%. In recent years, almost no antibiotics important for the treatment of infections in humans have been used in farm animals. Compared to 2018, antimicrobial resistance in the various animal husbandry sectors remained stable or decreased slightly. The percentage of ESBL-positive animals declined in all sectors. The largest decline in ESBL-producing intestinal bacteria over the past five years was seen in broiler chickens and chicken meat. ESBLs are enzymes that can break down common antibiotics such as penicillin.

Research report

These results were published in the NethMap/MARAN 2020 research report. NethMap is the result of a partnership between the Dutch Working Party on Antibiotic Policy (SWAB) and the Centre for Infectious Disease Control of the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). MARAN is a partnership between Wageningen Bioveterinary Research, Wageningen Food Safety Research, the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority, RIVM, Utrecht University and the Netherlands Veterinary Medicines Institute.