National strategy for prevention of infections in the health service and antibiotic resistance (2008–2012) in Norway

The strategy includes relevant measures in many sectors and at various levels that should enable us to continue to maintain a favourable situation with regards to hospital infections and antibiotic use in Norway.

The strategy is a result of cooperation among five Norwegian ministries: the Ministry of Labour and Social Inclusion, the Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Health and Care Services.

Better control of communicable diseases and better use of antibiotics are often two sides of the same coin. The most extensive infections often occur with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The efforts to control communicable diseases are important for both reducing these infections and counteracting the development of resistance. An important objective of a new strategy is to encourage closer cooperation among and integration of all units in the health services for people and animals.

Based on studies of the prevalence of hospital infections in Norway (population 4.7 million), it is estimated that 50,000 patients who are admitted each year to hospitals will contract a hospital infection. This inflicts unnecessary suffering on the patients and increased costs on society. It is estimated that infection lengthens a patient’s hospital stay by four days on the average, i.e. a total of 200,000 days. The direct costs related to this are substantial for the health trusts. In addition, we must also include sickness benefits, lost earnings, loss of production, etc. Infections are also a steadily increasing problem in the health service outside of hospitals. It is not possible to completely eradicate the risk of these infections. However, there is evidence for claiming that 20-30% of the infections can be prevented by effective efforts to control communicable diseases. In addition to preventing suffering and death, this may free up considerable capacity in the health service for other high priority tasks. The effectiveness of preventive measures will depend to a great extent on interaction, e.g. among the different levels of the health service.

National goals for the period 2008–2012 are:
1. The occurence of antibiotic resistance in Norway shall not increase.
2. The occurence of infections acquired in the health service in Norway shall be reduced.
3. Knowledge about occurence, causal relations and effects of measures to prevent infections in the health service and antibiotic resistance shall be improved.

This strategy is based on two previous action plans against hospital infections and antibiotic resistance respectively. Since 2000, a number of permanent improvements have been achieved and several permanent systems have been established that have given Norway a basis for further prevention of infections in the health service and for preventing the development of more antibiotic resistance. It is assumed that these measures will continue to be carried out. In chapter four, three national goals for this strategy are presented. These three goals are further divided into a total of 31 sub-targets with relevant measures where the participants responsible for follow-up are specified.

National strategy for prevention of infections in the health service and antibiotic resistance (2008–2012) in Norway (pdf)

Last updated: 03.10.2008