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Be part of the solution to preserve antibiotics

14 November, 2017

This Antibiotic Awareness Week the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care is urging health professionals and the public to 'be part of the solution' and take action to preserve the power of antibiotics and slow the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Antibiotic Awareness Week (13-19 November) is part of a global campaign endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO), encouraging us all to play our part in tackling antibiotic resistance. Inappropriate use and overuse of antibiotics are major contributors to antibiotic resistance.

The Commission's Senior Medical Advisor, Professor John Turnidge, said: "this Antibiotic Awareness Week we want to encourage people to take action to slow antibiotic resistance by reducing unnecessary prescriptions for antibiotics."

The Commission's Antimicrobial Use and Resistance in Australia (AURA) 2017: Second Australian report on antimicrobial use and resistance in human health found that there have been some recent gains in efforts to encourage more careful use of antibiotics in hospitals. Professor Turnidge said the results were encouraging, and it was "good to see the message beginning to get through."

But he sounded a note of caution, pointing out that the same report found that prescribing for antibiotics in the community had not shown the same improvements. In fact, community-type methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureas (MRSA) now causes more bloodstream infections than hospital-type MRSA.

This year, as part of its work to support Australia's response to the growing threat of resistance to antibiotics, the Commission has published a range of reports and resources covering the use of antibiotics in hospitals, ages care homes and the community.

"Tackling antibiotic resistance requires a combination of strategies," Professor Turnidge said. "Along with using antibiotics safely and appropriately, we need to practise good hand hygiene, infection prevention and control, and get immunised."

The Commission's National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards and Clinical Care Standard on antimicrobial stewardship are key resources in Australia's fight against antibiotic resistance – which is fast becoming one of the greatest threats to human health today.

"There is a role for everyone in this fight, ranging from not taking antibiotics for a viral illness like a cold, to observing the 5 moments for hand hygiene, to ensuring you have best practice infection control processes."

Resources to support Antibiotic Awareness Week 2017 are available from the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care's website at www.safetyandquality.gov.au/aaw.

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