Among the European countries the Netherlands used antibiotics (2013) least frequently whereas most were prescribed in Greece. There are also regional differences within the Netherlands in the use of antibiotics: health care providers in some municipalities prescribed antibiotics to twice as many patients as elsewhere, according to figures released by Statistics Netherlands.
Wide differences are seen across Europe in the volume of antibiotics prescribed. In the most recent European comparison (2013), the Netherlands ranks lowest in the use of antibiotics with slightly under 11 daily doses in every 1,000 inhabitants. In Germany antibiotics were given more than one and a half times more often, in Belgium and France more than two and a half times. Greece reported the highest use with over 32 daily doses in 1,000 inhabitants, i.e. more than three times the volume prescribed to the Dutch.
Regional differences within the Netherlands
There are also regional differences within the Netherlands in the use of antibiotics. In some municipalities, antibiotics treatment was given to twice as many patients as in other municipalities. The share of antibiotics treatments varied by municipality. Antibiotics were prescribed to fewer than 15 percent of people in Schermer (North Holland province) but to over 30 percent in Pekela (Groningen province). Antibiotics are prescribed more frequently to children and elderly people. Even when taking age composition of the population into account, differences among the municipalities remain.
Decline in use of antibiotics
The number of people receiving antibiotics went down from 3.9 in 2011 to 3.5 million in 2014, a decline of 10 percent. Sixty percent of people receiving antibiotics were female. Two-thirds of antibiotics dispensed by public pharmacies in 2012 were prescribed by general practitioners, the other one-third by specialists.
On 9 and 10 February 2016, Public Health and Agricultural Ministers of all EU/EEA countries are joining the Ministerial Conference on Antimicrobial Resistence (AMR) in Amsterdam. Held under Dutch presidency, the main topic of the conference is antibiotic resistance.