A new national strategy will aim to reduce the threat of antibiotic resistance following the release of statistics showing Australia’s consumption of antibiotics is among the highest in the developed world.
Minister for Health Sussan Ley and Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce say Australia’s first Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy would address the decreasing effectiveness of antibiotics because of the rise of resistance in disease-causing bacteria.
Minister Ley said in 2013 that more than 29 million prescriptions for antibiotics were supplied under the PBS and Repatriation PBS to over 10 million patients or 45% of all Australians.
“The over and misuse of antibiotics has been identified as a significant contributor to the emergence of resistant bacteria,” Minister Ley says.
“The new national approach focuses on measures that will prevent disease-causing bacteria from developing resistance to antibiotics as well as driving down the inappropriate use of antibiotics.
“Antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines are a precious resource and this strategy is not about removing access but about providing guidance to using them in the safest and most effective way.”
She says a recent survey showed 65% of Australians believe antibiotics help them recover from a cold or flu more quickly, one in five people expect antibiotics for colds and flu and nearly 60% of GPs surveyed would prescribe antibiotics to meet patient demands.
“Australia’s consumption of antibiotics is one of the highest among developed countries and well above the OECD average,” Minister Ley says.
“The Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy identifies actions for the appropriate use of antibiotics and demonstrates the Abbott Government’s commitment to good public health policy.
“Antimicrobial resistance is a serious problem and this strategy will guide how we tackle it as a nation – domestically, as well as at the regional and global levels.”
Minister Joyce said the strategy also guided antibiotic use in animal health and agricultural productivity.
“The strategy will guide actions to monitor, and seek to minimise, the development of antimicrobial resistance in livestock,” Minister Joyce says.
The release of Australia’s strategy comes following discussions at the World Health Assembly last week to agree to a global strategy for responding to the threat of antimicrobial resistance.