Community Pharmacy

Department of Health allocates €7 million for antimicrobial resistance and infection prevention & control

Minister for Health Simon Harris TD has today welcomed an allocation of €7 million for antimicrobial resistance (AMR) measures in the health service.

Minister Harris said the funding will be used for infection prevention and control teams in both acute hospitals and community care settings in 2019. This includes €2 million allocated in 2018 and a further €5 million for 2019.

Minister Harris said “I am delighted to announce this significant targeted investment to increase our public health system’s capacity to tackle AMR and healthcare associated infections, including the superbug CPE.

“This represents a significant step forward in funding our infection control teams in hospitals and community care settings.”

He continued “Ireland is standing up and playing its part in tackling the global threat of AMR in our health services and in health services around the world. As the World Health Organisation has emphasised, managing the AMR crisis is of the utmost urgency and the Government is doing exactly that. We are building infection prevention and control teams both in hospitals and in the community to reduce the spread of infection and disease, enhance surveillance and optimise the use of antimicrobials such as antibiotics.”

The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) was convened as a result of the activation of the Public Health Emergency Plan, on 25 October 2017, by the Minister Harris as a public health response to CPE in Ireland.

The purpose of the NPHET has been to provide advice, guidance, support and direction on the surveillance and management of CPE at national level.

Over the last eighteen months, a number of measures have been put in place and the Department of Health and the HSE will continue to work closely together on this.

The Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohan, who chaired the NPHET, added that “The NPHET sought to develop and implement a strategy to contain CPE. I am pleased to say that we have come a long way in overseeing the health system’s response to CPE.

“This funding is key to ensuring a sustainable response in Ireland to healthcare associated infections and antibiotic resistant organisms, including CPE.”

Throughout its work on this issue, the NPHET has implemented strong governance arrangements for healthcare associated infections (HCAIs) and AMR within the HSE. The NPHET has also driven enhanced surveillance of HCAIs and built capacity within the system for the challenges associated with these threats.

Many guidance documents have been developed by the Expert Group convened by the NPHET which provide expert advice to hospitals and the community health care services regarding actions that should be taken regarding CPE screening and control of spread of CPE.

The next phase of work focuses on the HSE implementation and operationalising of measures to address CPE and other HCAIs.

While the number newly diagnosed CPE patients has slightly increased, this is in the context of substantially increased screening activity over the past year. By screening and diagnosing more patients, we can ensure that CPE patients are managed more effectively in our hospitals, limiting its impact on fellow patients.

Through the work of the NPHET, hospitals have significantly enhanced their screening activities and this additional screening information has proven vital in allowing the NPHET to make informed decisions regarding CPE management.

Newly appointed Director of the National Patient Safety Office, Marita Kinsella, said “AMR is a significant challenge to medicine and society as a whole. Prevention of infection and appropriate management when it does occur is a cornerstone of patient safety.”
This investment will work towards advancing the strategic actions outlined in iNAP, Ireland’s National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance 2017 – 2020.

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