Antibiotic resistance strategy a critical step: NPS


red and white antibiotics in blister pack with blue and white antibiotics loose in front

NPS MedicineWise has welcomed the release today of the National Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy 2015–19 as a critical step in addressing antimicrobial resistance.

NPS MedicineWise CEO Dr Lynn Weekes says that developing a national strategy is an active and important step forward for the Australian healthcare, agriculture and veterinary sectors, and the community.

“All of these sectors need to continue to take action together to combat antimicrobial resistance,” says Dr Weekes.

“We commend Health Minister the Hon Sussan Ley and Agriculture Minister the Hon Barnaby Joyce for their commitment to driving forward this national strategy.”

NPS MedicineWise has been raising awareness about the serious health threat of antibiotic resistance and educating health professionals and individuals on appropriate use of antibiotics for several years.

The newly-released strategy recognises the impact of antimicrobial resistance overseas, and while Australia has not yet experienced the same level of deaths and healthcare costs, further efforts are required here now to manage this emerging threat, it says.

“We look forward to working with stakeholders to continue to address antimicrobial resistance within an integrated and collaborative One Health Response,” says Dr Weekes.

Key initiatives by NPS MedicineWise to combat this serious health threat include:

  • Ongoing five year national campaign to raise awareness of antibiotic resistance within the Australian community and encourage people to use antibiotics wisely.
  • Targeted education programs for health professionals to improve prescribing and utilisation of antibiotics.
  • Analysis of data through its MedicineInsight program to improve understanding of antibiotic prescribing in Australian general practices. Data is sourced from 500 participating general practices, which represents around 2,500 general practitioners and 2.5 million patients.

 

The report reinforces that antibiotics need to be recognised and managed as valuable shared resources so infections remain treatable and Australians continue to benefit from the medical advances antibiotics enable.

The high rate of antibiotic use in Australia is an immediate concern highlighted in the national strategy. In 2013, the PBS and RPBS supplied 29.2 million prescriptions for antibiotics to over 10 million unique patients—45% of the Australian population.

But actual use is higher, as these figures do not recognise hospital use or private prescriptions.

“With the release of the national strategy, NPS MedicineWise is reminding Australians that the first step to help with this serious situation is to take personal action today and not demand and use antibiotics when not needed, or they may not work for you when you do need them in the future,” says Dr Weekes.

“This is not just an issue for future generations. The reality is that antibiotic resistance is a personal threat now, it’s a growing problem in our community, and to prevent it we all need to take action.

“We are urging people to start changing their behaviour this winter. Australians must understand that antibiotics will not work for viruses like colds and flu or for all types of infections. They are effective for some bacterial infections, but there are misconceptions in the community that antibiotics will work for most illnesses and this is simply not the case.”

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