It's World Antibiotic Awareness Week and the Ministry of Health is reminding New Zealanders that we all contribute to antibiotic resistance and we can all do something to help combat it.
The Ministry has been collaborating with other organisations including the Ministry for Primary Industries, the Health Quality & Safety Commission (HQSC), PHARMAC and the Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand. We are working together to help raise awareness of this important issue and remind people that we can all help keep antibiotics working.
We encourage New Zealanders to take advantage of the ‘Antibiotic Amnesty’ which will be promoted in participating pharmacies from 18 November through until the end of the year, with the support of the Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand.
“Antibiotics are essential for treating bacterial infections in humans and animals. Antibiotic resistance stops an antibiotic from working effectively against bacteria. It makes infections difficult, and sometimes impossible to treat,” says Dr Ian Town, The Ministry of Health’s Chief Science Advisor.
“The more antibiotics are used, the more bacteria are able to adapt and find new ways to survive, becoming ‘resistant’ to antibiotics.
These resistant bacteria can spread between people and are very difficult and expensive to treat. Preventing infections and their spread helps stop antibiotic resistance by reducing the need for antibiotics.
“There are few new antibiotics in development, so we need to protect the antibiotics we have to ensure these life-saving medicines remain effective in the future.
“Without them we may face a situation where cancer treatments, organ transplants and other medical procedures are no longer possible, as they rely on antibiotics to manage the risk of infection.
“There are a range of simple actions the public can take to help keep antibiotics working. This includes regular hand washing, keeping up to date with vaccinations, taking care when cooking to avoid getting food poisoning and trusting their health professional if they’re advised that they don’t need antibiotics,” says Dr Ian Town.