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Urgent need to tackle antibiotic resistance in New Zealand

Urgent need to tackle antibiotic resistance in New Zealand

4 November 2016

Deaths attributed to antimicrobial resistance (AMR) could be higher than deaths attributed to cancer in 35 years if no action is taken to address increasing rates of resistance, says The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (the RACP) and the Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases (ASID).

Common infection-causing bacteria are developing resistance to available antibiotics. These standard treatments are becoming ineffective against common infections, increasing the risk of the infection spreading to others, and even death in the case of untreatable disease.

Dr Jonathan Christiansen, RACP NZ President, says antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a serious issue that is progressing very quickly in New Zealand.

“Even now, we have patients in our hospitals that are critically ill and we can’t easily treat them. This is going to become more and more common.”

An RACP viewpoint on AMR recently published in the New Zealand Medical Journal states urgent action is required to halt the progress of AMR.

“New Zealand needs to take action now to ensure that we have cures for infections in the future.” Dr Christiansen says.

“We need the government to lead a well-resourced program of antimicrobial stewardship, including guidelines on prescribing and appropriate use of antibiotics. We also need doctors and healthcare workers to strongly support good prescribing choices and make sure good infection prevention practices are in place.”

In collaboration with the RACP, and in the context of the worldwide “Choosing Wisely” movement, ASID has developed a list of the Top five low-value practices and interventions in the field of infectious diseases.

“The top three items on ASID’s list all relate to antibiotic use and overuse. This has been a serious concern among infectious diseases specialists for many years”, said Dr Kerry Read, Chair of ASID’s NZ Committee.

“Promoting the wise use of antimicrobials such as antibiotics, is a key part of effective antimicrobial stewardship.”

Antimicrobial stewardship is the topic of one of the sessions of ASID’s New Zealand Annual Meeting, the premier conference for specialists in the field, in Dunedin today.

“All New Zealanders can help by having good conversations with their doctors about whether they in fact need antibiotics for a particular condition.

“We can all help and we can all make a difference.” says Dr Christiansen.


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