Tackling antimicrobial resistance

national-antimicrobial-resistance-strategyThe federal government has announced the implementation of the National Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Strategy 2015-2019. The strategy is developed under the Coalition Government’s new plan, in partnership with health professionals, research communities, veterinarians and agricultural industries.

The implementation plan outlines specific focus areas for action to minimise the development of antimicrobial resistance and ensure the continued availability of effective antimicrobials to treat common infections, in both humans and animals.

Minister Susan Ley said that a particular focus will be Australia’s high use of antibiotics in general practice, which is 20 per cent above the OECD average. Bringing prescribing rates down is critical, as high antibiotic use is the number one driver of the increasing resistance to antimicrobials.

$9.4 million was allocated in the 2016/17 budget to continue work already being done on antimicrobial resistance. The funding will go towards continuing the AURA Surveillance System; improving AMR awareness in general practice; and developing a national One Health AMR website.

“The newly released plan takes a ‘one health’ approach, which recognises that human, animal, and ecosystem health are inextricably linked and that combatting resistance to antimicrobials requires action in all sectors where antimicrobials are used,” Minister Ley said.

National Councillor and Victorian President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Anthony Tassone, stressed the important role that community pharmacists can play in the battle against antimicrobial resistance:

“Pharmacists working in community pharmacies are the most accessible health professionals in Australia and as medicines experts are ideally placed to provide advice on symptomatic treatments for what may be in many cases viral infections that do not require antibiotics,” Mr Tassone said

“I would encourage patients to “Think Pharmacy First” when seeking advice and information about appropriate treatments for minor conditions or ailments.

“Experience has shown there are opportunities for pharmacists to provide advice around when antibiotics may not be appropriate or unsuitable.

“Community pharmacists can also help to reinforce a doctor’s advice and intentions on the judicious use of antibiotics, for example, the intended duration of a prescribed course of antibiotics, when to commence a course should other treatments be tried first, or when a previous prescription for antibiotics may not be suitable for a newly presenting infection.

“Consumers and health professionals all need to work together to help fight antimicrobial resistance and community pharmacies are actively engaging to try to help ensure antibiotics remain a frontline defence against bacterial infections into the future.”

When it comes to dental problems, the Australian Dental Association (ADA) is urging people to use antibiotics only if necessary. Dr Michael Foley of the ADA said, “Quite apart from the risks arising from not treating the underlying dental issues, the excessive use of antibiotics coupled with many people failing to take them as prescribed, is reducing their effectiveness every year taking away a major weapon in the arsenal that healthcare professionals use to tackle disease.”


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