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World Antibiotic Awareness Week

Monday, 13 November 2017

World Antibiotic Awareness Week

The World Health Organisation has declared antibiotic resistance one of the greatest threats to worldwide health, food security and economic development.

World Antibiotic Awareness Week is an annual, global event that raises awareness of the serious health issue of antibiotic resistance. The event encourages people around the world to use antibiotics responsibly.

What is antibiotic resistance?

Antibiotic resistance happens when bacteria change to protect themselves from an antibiotic. Basically what this means is that when antibiotic resistance happens antibiotics that would have previously killed the bacteria (or stopped them multiplying) no longer work. This makes bacterial infections harder to treat.

Antibiotic resistant bacteria infections are associated with longer stays in hospital and an increased death rate. In Australia the frequency of multi-resistant bacteria (also known as superbugs) is on the rise, meaning more and more infections may simply become untreatable.

Australia has one of the highest antibiotic prescription rates in the world—with around 29 million prescriptions issued annually.

The more antibiotics are used the more chances there are for bacteria to become resistant to them. Major causes of antibiotic resistance include:

  • using antibiotics when they’re not needed
  • not taking antibiotics at the doses and times that a doctor prescribes

A recent prediction from The United Kingdom indicated that by 2050 antibiotic resistance could lead to an extra 10 million deaths each year worldwide, with a financial cost of up to USD $100 trillion.

The most important thing we need to know is that the problem belongs to everyone. It’s everyone’s responsibility to handle antibiotics with care and preserve the power of these medicines.

How can you reduce antibiotic resistance?

  • Don’t ask for antibiotics for colds and the flu. 
    Antibiotics only work on bacteria—not other infections like viruses that cause colds and flu. Taking antibiotics when they’re not needed will not make a significant difference to how you feel, or how fast you recover.
     
  • Only take antibiotics in the way they have been prescribed.
    Take the prescribed dose and complete the whole course of treatment prescribed by your doctor—even if you’re feeling better. Don’t share your antibiotics with another person, as the type of antibiotic may not be targeted to the bacteria causing their particular infection. Don’t keep leftovers—the dose and amount leftover may not be enough to destroy a new infection which can create opportunity for resistant bacteria to develop and multiply
     
  • Understand that it is possible to pass on antibiotic resistant bacteria to others.
    Antibiotic resistant bacteria can stay in your body for as long as 12 months and could be passed on to family members or others in the community.
     
  • Help prevent the spread of germs by practicing good hand hygiene.
    Good hand hygiene (regular hand washing with soap and water or alcohol based hand sanitisers) is one of the best defences against spreading germs and antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Antibiotic resistance is happening now—but we can fight it by using antibiotics appropriately. The future of antibiotics is in our hands.

Dr Paul Griffin, Director of Infectious Diseases

References:
NPS medicine wise

 

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Tags: antibiotic resistance, Dr Paul Griffin