In 2015, EPI-Net was established as COMBACTE’s fourth pillar. This network has experts collaborating in the field of epidemiology, surveillance of healthcare-associated infections and antimicrobial resistance. The addition of EPI-Net complements COMBACTE’s drive to strengthen the ability to monitor the spread of healthcare-associated infections and antibiotic resistance across Europe.
EPI-Net harmonizes and connects various European systems of disease surveillance by linking clinical, microbiological, and public health data. This research network contributes to the reduction of heterogeneity of current surveillance systems in Europe. Other objectives of EPI-Net are to inform public health action, promote sustainable antibiotic usage, and support and guide R&D for new, effective antibiotics against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Integral activities are collecting and analyzing epidemiology data from varied sources (external and internal stakeholders), conducting epidemiological studies, and developing consensus documents.
When I was asked to lead EPI-Net, I was enthusiastic about the project. Our dream is to substantially contribute in defining a new model of resistance surveillance that could include in the same platform academic and company data. This system would have double benefits: detailed information on local epidemiology to increase appropriateness of empiric antibiotic therapy and clearer definition of case settings where testing new drugs would bring more benefit for the patients.
The EPI-Net Surveillance Platform
In august 2016, EPI-Net completed three systematic literature reviews (EMBARGO, SURVAIL and SUSPIRE) that have been published. The data was used to design the EPI-Net Central Data Repository. In 2018 this first-of-its-kind European platform was launched, epi-net.eu. Data presented on the website is derived from EPI-Net’s surveillance database for target antibiotic-resistant bacteria and healthcare-associated infections selected on basis of their clinical significance. The EPI-Net surveillance platform connects various European surveillance systems, such as EARS-Net and HAI-Net, for infections and outbreaks due to antibiotic resistant bacteria. The platform provides an interactive space, which combines multiple sources and allows greater insights into distribution of serious bacterial infections in the human and animal populations across the EU and EFTA region and emergence of resistance to new antibiotics at global level.
EPI-Net joined forces with the Joined Programme Initiative on Antimicrobial Resistance (JPIAMR) funded networks ARCH and PRAISE in 2019. The collaboration with the ARCH Net resulted in a series of whitepapers to facilitate implementation of One Health antibiotic policy interventions driven by surveillance data on antimicrobial consumption and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and a strategic research agenda. In December 2020 the “Bridge the Gap: Survey to Treat” 4 whitepaper were published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.
- Bridging the gap between human and animal surveillance data, antibiotic policy and stewardship in the hospital sector
- Bridging the gap between surveillance data and antimicrobial stewardship in long-term care facilities
- Bridging the gap between surveillance data and antimicrobial stewardship in the outpatient sector
- Bridging the gap between surveillance data and antimicrobial stewardship in the animal sector
The joint efforts with the PRAISE network culminated in a practical recommendations document to guide implementation of semi-automated HAI surveillance in hospitals. It complements with a roadmap for transition to large-scale automated HAI surveillance which will be released soon.
AMR Travel Tool
Recently EPI-Net launched the AMR travel tool. This is a free online platform to raise awareness on the antimicrobial resistance risks and prevention measures related to international travel. The objective is to prevent the risk of acquisition and spread of multidrug-resistant bacteria due to international travel. The interactive, educational tool helps healthcare professionals evaluate travel history and travel-associated risk factors related to antimicrobial resistance as part of their clinical practice and inform travelers on preventive measures to reduce the acquisition and transmission of AMR across borders.
In the near future EPI-Net will be part of the transition from COMBACTE to ECRAID. Within ECRAID, the EPI-Net network will be part of the self-sustaining clinical research organization and network for infectious diseases. Being included in ECRAID gives EPI-Net the opportunity to expand its network and research and remain a prominent research network.
Within ECRAID-Base, EPI-Net will continue to innovate epidemiological research and analysis of drivers of antimicrobial resistance and support clinical research services as part of the four interrelated workstreams of the DATA Work Package (WP9).
EPI-Net’s primary activities in ECRAID-Base will focus on highly collaborative efforts to:
- provide epidemiological insights,
- define clinical burden, and
- drive site selection for clinical studies.