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Antibiotic Awareness Week

Antibiotic Awareness Week 2016 runs from 14-20 November and encourages people around the world to use antibiotics responsibly.

The World Health Organization has warned that antibiotic resistance is one of the greatest threats to human health today.

Australia has one of the highest prescription rates globally, with around 29 million prescriptions issued each year. The more antibiotics are used, the more chances bacteria have to become resistant to them. Major causes of antibiotic resistance include:

  1. Using antibiotics when they are not needed
  2. Not taking antibiotics at the doses and times that a doctor prescribes — this allows time for the bacteria in your system to become resistant

A recent prediction from the UK stated that antibiotic resistance could lead to an extra 10 million deaths a year worldwide by 2050, with a financial cost to the world of up to USD $100 trillion.

The reality is that antibiotics are losing their power. Antibiotic resistance is a serious health issue already present in our community. Without antibiotics, infections that were once easily treated may once again kill.

You can help preserve the miracle of antibiotics by being part of the solution – there are simple actions individuals can do to help stop the spread of antibiotic resistant infections.

For health professionals this means adhering to best practice prescribing guidelines and having the sometimes difficult conversations with patients when antibiotics are not appropriate. All health professionals have a responsibility to preserve the miracle of antibiotics. Whether you prescribe, dispense or provide advice about antibiotics you can make a difference. As a community of health professionals, we must step up and act now.

For the community it is important not to pressure your doctor for antibiotics when you have a cold or flu because these are not bacterial infections. The more antibiotics are used, the more chances bacteria have to become resistant to them. This can then make bacterial infections much harder to treat when you do have one.

So remember:

  • Antibiotics can have negative side effects
  • Only take antibiotics when your doctor says you must
  • The overuse and misuse of antibiotics is leading to antibiotic resistant infections
  • Antibiotics can’t cure viral infections like colds or flu
  • You are part of the solution

Join the fight against antibiotic resistance

Antibiotic resistance is everyone’s problem. Together we can make a difference and change the future. Take the Antibiotic Resistance Fighter Pledge:

You can join in the conversation on social media by using the hashtag #AntibioticResistance and tagging @NPSMedicineWise.