Wednesday December 08, 2021

Coronavirus reduces antibiotics consumption in Finland

Published : 18 Nov 2021, 23:55

  DF Report

Pixabay photo.

The coronavirus pandemic has reduced consumption of antibiotics in Finland, said the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) in a press release, quoting a report published on Thursday, on European Antibiotic Awareness Day.

A similar phenomenon is noticeable in several other European countries as well.

In 2019–2020 total consumption of antimicrobial drugs declined in EU/EEA countries by 16.6 percent and in Finland, by 19.3 percent.

“In the coronavirus period, consumption of antibiotics has been affected by factors including difficulties in availability of basic health care services, the cancellation of non-urgent surgeries, and the reduction of hospitalisations of patients with protracted diseases”, said researcher Katja Koukkari of THL.

Avoiding social contacts, promoting hand hygiene, coughing etiquette, and travel restrictions have reduced incidence of all respiratory tract infections and intestinal infections. This explains the decline in consumption of antibiotics in out-patient care.

The total consumption of antibiotics continues to decline in all hospital districts in Finland. There are large regional differences, however.

The differences can be seen especially in consumption of piperacillin-tazobactam and antifungal medications. In areas where piperacillin-tazobactam is used the most, the amounts are as high as four times that of areas where consumption is lowest. With antifungals the differences in consumption are nearly double, at the highest.

Consumption of antibiotics is monitored to see the possible problem areas and to identify and launch measures to reduce consumption.

“The regional monitoring and reporting on antimicrobial consumption needs to be improved in Finland. If hospital districts are not aware how antibiotics are used in the area's hospitals and out-patient care, for example, it is impossible to intervene in the matter. Identifying heavy consumption means that treatment practices can also be re-evaluated. In this way consumption of broad-spectrum antimicrobial medications - those that are effective against many different bacterial species - could be reduced”, said THL Chief Physician Emmi Sarvikivi.

In the other Nordic Countries, consumption of antibiotics has traditionally been lower than in Finland. However, the difference has continued to narrow.

In Finland, consumption of penicillins is considerably lower than in Sweden and Norway, except for combination products (penicillin and beta-lactamase inhibitors) as well as first, and second-generation cephalosporins.

Consumption of carbapenems was significantly higher in Finland than in the other Nordic Countries in 2019.

However, consumption of third generation cephalosporins was lower than in Sweden and Norway.