Residents encouraged to help reduce antibiotic resistance

Associate Professor Adriaan Venter has sounded a warning on the overuse of antibiotics.
Associate Professor Adriaan Venter has sounded a warning on the overuse of antibiotics.

Residents have a part to play in helping reduce the growing problem of antibiotic resistance.

Australia is one of the highest users of antibiotics in the developed world and ahead of Antibiotic Awareness Week, from November, 13 to 19, the Murrumbidgee Local Health District is encouraging residents to consider the global implications of not only using antibiotics carefully, but also how to dispose of them.

“This year’s theme is Antibiotics: Handle with Care, which is a reminder to everyone that the antibiotic resistance we are seeing now is due to overuse and inappropriate use of antibiotics,” said respiratory and sleep physician, Associate Professor Adriaan Venter.

“Patients with infections due to resistant bacteria have delayed recovery and their treatment may not work, meaning they are at least twice as likely to die as patients with infections from non-resistant organisms.

“We can help prevent antibiotic resistance by remembering we don’t need antibiotics for colds and flu and take steps to prevent the spread of infections by washing our hands regularly.

“When we are prescribed antibiotics we should take the right dose, at the right time and for the prescribed length of time.”

The highest rates of antibiotics use were among children up to nine years old and people over 65, a 2016 Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care report found.

General practitioners accounted for 88 per cent of all antibiotics prescriptions.

MLHD will be holding education sessions at a number of hospitals on national and local strategies to combat antimicrobial resistance.

A spokesperson for the MLHD said there were a number of issues Wagga residents could bear in mind when it came to using antibiotics, which should be considered a precious resource that could be lost.

“Antibiotic resistance is happening now – it is a worldwide problem that affects human and animal health,” the spokesperson said. “Antibiotic resistance happens when bacteria stops an antibiotic from working effectively – meaning some infections may be impossible to treat.

“Few new antibiotics are being developed to help solve this problem and inappropriate of antibiotics contributes to antibiotic resistance.”

Whenever antibiotics must be used, they must be used with care, the spokesperson said. “People should not dispose of unused or expired antibiotics in the garbage or down the toilet or sink.

“Instead, take them to a community pharmacist where they can be safely disposed of and destroyed, according to regulations.”