Antibiotics are a precious resource that are losing their power because we are not using them responsibly.
Introduced to the world in the late 1930s, antibiotics fight bacterial infections and diseases. Since their introduction, they have saved millions of lives. However, the effectiveness of antibiotics is at risk, due to antibiotic resistance.
What is antibiotic resistance?
The World Health Organisation has warned that antibiotic resistance is one of the greatest threats to human health today.
Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change to protect themselves from an antibiotic, thereby causing the antibiotic to be ineffective against them. The more antibiotics are used, the higher the likelihood of antibiotic resistance.
In Australia, around 29 million prescriptions for antibiotics are issued each year — one of the highest prescription rates for antibiotics in the world.
According to NPS Medicinewise, major causes of antibiotic resistance include:
- using antibiotics when they are not needed
- not taking antibiotics at the doses and times that a doctor prescribes, allowing time for the bacteria in your system to become resistant.
Antibiotic resistance is a serious health issue already present in our community. However, it is set to become even more serious.
It is predicted that antibiotic resistance could lead to an extra 10 million deaths globally each year, by 2050, at a global cost of up to USD$100 trillion!
What can YOU do?
We all have a responsibility to fight antibiotic resistance. And the good news is that we can.
Simple actions individuals can do to help stop the spread of antibiotic resistant infections include:
- not pressuring your doctor for antibiotics when you have a cold or flu, as these are viral infections
- only use antibiotics when absolutely necessary
- take your antibiotic medication as prescribed, ensuring you take the entire course, even if you start to feel better
Health professionals can play an important role by adhering to best practice prescribing guidelines and advising patients when antibiotics are not appropriate.
Join Antibiotic Awareness Week
Antibiotic Awareness Week, held from 14-20 November is an annual, global event to raise awareness about the serious health issue of antibiotic resistance. The event encourages people around the world to use antibiotics responsibly.
This Antibiotic Awareness Week, health professionals and individuals alike will be asked to ‘take the pledge’ to fight antibiotic resistance.
To find our more information about antibiotic resistance, the awareness campaign, and how you can help preserve the miracle of antibiotics, visit NPS Medicinewise and download their campaign toolkit.