Written by Dimitra Kousi, Junior Biostatistician, CLEO.
What is the microbiome?
Trillions of microorganisms colonize our gastrointestinal tract, skin, genito-urinary system etc., together forming the ‘human microbiome’. Most of these microorganisms are bacteria, but the microbiome also includes fungi, protozoa and viruses. Some of these microorganisms have a beneficial effect on our health, others have been associated with harmful functions while others remain neutral.
Recent studies on the human microbiome showed that 56% of the total cell count in our body are not human cells, but bacterial, weighing nearly 0,2 kg (almost as much as a zucchini!) (1). The microbiome is unique for each and every one of us and, in a way, constitutes our identity (2). The vast majority of the human microbial communities inhabit the gastrointestinal tract, and this is the reason why the gut microbiome (GM) has attracted the most attention.
The COVID-19 pandemic has presented unique, unprecedented challenges for national healthcare systems. The faltering global response - characterized by a lack of preparedness among health care institutions, workers and the wider community - has underscored the importance of investing in public health research. However, it has also provided a unique opportunity for countries to diagnose and treat gaps within their own capacity for disease prevention.
Like other countries, Greece has turned to urgent measures such as social distancing, quarantining, travel restrictions and border closures to rapidly halt transmission, reduce the risk of illness and protect healthcare systems from overfilling. Public misconceptions about transmissible diseases play a large part in adherence to these measures, and in the case of COVID, may have prevented the most effective response to the pandemic.
by Theoklis Zaoutis*
But to win the war against infectious disease – and to be ready for the next health crisis – we need a stronger, more accountable health system.
We should all be proud of our country’s successful response to the coronavirus crisis. It shows that with a concerted group effort from everyone in our society, we can achieve better health outcomes – better even than other countries with far more resources.
Antimicrobial resistance is a global public health challenge with serious implications to patient health outcomes and enormous added costs to national health systems. The development of antibiotic resistance is directly linked to the scale and manner of antibiotic consumption.
Recent data show that antibiotics are not only overly consumed in Greece but also that the rates of antibiotic resistance are consistently higher than other EU member states. Greece and Italy have the highest levels of morbidity and number of deaths associated with antibiotic-resistant infections. And while the judicious use of antibiotics is considered critical in halting the development of antibiotic resistance, Greece still ranks 1st in the consumption of antibiotics within primary healthcare settings, among other EU member states. Greece is also far ahead of Romania, which ranks 2nd.
Recognizing the scientific work of the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Outbreaks - CLEO and its contribution to the reduction and prevention of infections in Greece, the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association – AHEPA has announced its decision to support the work of CLEO.
AHEPA has donated the amount of $30,000 for the training of health professionals in primary health care centres and in specialized COVID-19 reference centers that were established in Greece from early April for the prompt diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19. In addition, the donation will support novel research that CLEO is about to undertake aiming at assessing the knowledge, perceptions, and practices of health professionals regarding transmission, prevention and measures taken to address the pandemic in Greece.