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National health strategy needed on superbug

22 January 2002

Green MP Sue Kedgley is calling again for an urgent national strategy to contain the superbug explosion in New Zealand hospitals, following a 72.6 percent rise in the number of cases last year.

"These figures are alarming and show we have lost control of the problem. The incidence of MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphlyococcus aureus) is growing exponentially, with a 167 percent increase since 1999" she said.

Ms Kedgley said a national strategy was needed so co-ordinated action could be used to tackle the epidemic.

"MRSA should be made a notifiable disease so we know exactly how many cases are occurring. Currently numbers are only kept for MRSA strains resistant to more than one antibiotic, so the real number of cases is actually even higher.

"There also needs to be a drastic change in the current practice of prescribing antibiotics to animals. At present there is no control on the sale and use of antibiotics which are fed to animals without a veterinary prescription.

"Its time for the government to stop procrastinating on the issue and prohibit the feeding of antibiotics to animals who are not sick. "

Ms Kedgley said a decrease in the number of cases in Wellington's public hospitals showed that staff education and improved hygiene practices did work.

"A national strategy would encourage the adoption of these sort of measures nation-wide," she said.

"The explosion in superbug cases is costing the country in human pain and longer treatment costs. This is a major public health issue and it's about time the Government took some strong action to tackle the problem."

ENDS

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