Brian Maguire, Political Correspondent, Brussels

Is 2016 the Year of the Pandemic?

Brian Maguire, Political Correspondent, Brussels

What if ISIS is the least of our worries this year? What if bacteria pose the greatest threat to Europe in 2016? Much like the rise of jihadi chaos, microbial resistance has been steadily, almost silently, expanding. We won’t see the impact of antimicrobial resistance in our everyday lives until it’s too late, until every tabloid newspaper is screaming “Pandemic!!!”

by Brian Maguire, Political Correspondent, Brussels @BrianMaguireEU

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is the result of our overreliance on traditional bacterial cleaning agents and antibiotic medicines. Bacterial mutation has become so fast and so complex that hospitals are now a place of risk rather than recovery, and the startling rise in hospital MRSA infection rates is destroying lives as well as national healthcare budgets. Hospitals, and other healthcare facilities, are now faced with huge compensation bills because of AMR related infections.

The European Commission, the World Health Organisation and now, consumer lobby groups, have been calling for a fundamental shift in how Europe tackles AMR. The risks are to human and animal welfare; the costs are in quality of life and shocked budget lines.

Recently, Monique Goyens, Director General of BEUC, Europe’s leading consumer advocacy group, tweeted: #AntibioticResistance =huge chllenge.It’s global.No gender,race,social distinction.Tackle it while U can

Goyens was voicing a growing concern in Brussels. DG Health and Food Safety at the European Commission is actively engaged in promoting #AMR awareness; but is it too little, too late? Mario Pinca, CEO at Italian health services group Copma, thinks it’s not too late, but time cannot be lost anymore. Pinca argues that traditional hospital cleaning systems are not sufficient and appropriate. He points to research by the University of Ferrara in Italy which proves how a probiotic-based hygiene system called PCHS can revolutionise clinical hygiene.

“PCHS is the future of Europe’s healthcare hygiene, and a first and fundamental line of defence against #AMR,” said Pinca. He may be right, but what about the chemical cleaning lobby’s influence with medical decision-makers? Will Europe adopt a radical new hygiene approach just in time; or will bureaucracy bring Europe to its knees with a predictable, and stoppable global pandemic? Welcome to 2016.

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