The Netherlands and China collaborate to combat antibiotic resistance

The Netherlands is sharing antibiotic resistance research knowledge with China, to collaborate against antimicrobial resistance. This is an important step as resistant bacteria can travel all over the world with travellers and in food supplies. On September 20-21 Chinese and Dutch researchers are organising a conference in Bejing and Shanghai, China to discuss antibiotic resistance.

Recently, Chinese researchers found a bacteria that can transfer from pigs to humans, this bacteria appeared resistant to the newest group of antibiotics but also to the older drug colistine, a last resort treatment for patients with serious infections from resistant bacteria.

In China the use of antibiotics and resistance is not monitored like it has been in Europe in the past 10 years. At the same time, the use of antibiotics has risen in patients, but also in livestock farming and large pharmaceutical companies are dumping large amounts of waste with antibiotics in it.

The RIVM is leading a delegation that will attend the conferences in Bejing and Shanghai. Tjalling Leenstra, medical epidemiologist at RIVM will lead the RIVM delegation. He has been closely involved in collaboration with the Chinese CDC. From 1998-2010 a European network was coordinated by RIVM to collect data on use of antibiotics and prevention of antimicrobial resistance.

“The Chinese are very interested in how to set up and run a network like that over several countries,” said Mariken van der Lubben, coordinator antibiotic resistance at RIVM and closely involved in the Chinese collaboration. “For example, what technological features do you need to exchange data between several countries?”

In China the focus on antibiotic resistance is increasing, the Chinese have recently come up with a national approach. “A lot is happening now in China,” said Leenstra, “the labs are highly developed, the level of knowledge is quite high. We can collaborate as equals but they are also open to ideas from others. Most of the people we work with are trained in the United States.” Van der Lubben: “It is remarkable to see how much the Chinese already know, they have a lot of data.”

RIVM has helped the Chinese with the set-up of a monitoring system for antibiotics resistance. Van der Lubben: “They were very thorough, in no time the number of participating hospitals went from a few 100 to 1400.”

One Health approach

The Chinese are currently working on antibiotic stewardship, a system to improve the use of antibiotics. “This year, a large group of Chinese researchers attended the microbiology conference organised by the European association to learn more about antibiotic stewardship. This has lead to a concrete approach to implement the system.

The Dutch On Health approach is an important theme at the 2 day conference in Bejing. “The Chinese are very interested in the approach, we will talk about how we work in the One Health approach. They wil share their own experience. By offering a broad program with attention to antibiotics, antibiotic resistance in humans, animals and the environment we try to show that the problem covers all three areas. The conerences in Bejing and Shanghai are organised by the Dutch Embassy and the Health Development Research Centre in Shanghai.

Source: NOS article