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Antimicrobial Resistance: The Underlying Pandemic That’s Spreading Worldwide

This Antimicrobial Awareness Week we are joining with health organisations around the world to promote the appropriate and safe use of antibiotics. Antimicrobials are very precious, and we are raising awareness of the problem of antibiotic resistance.

Antibiotic resistance happens when bacteria stop an antibiotic from working effectively – without effective antibiotics some procedures may not be possible, and some infections may become impossible to treat.

Peninsula Health’s Head of Infectious Diseases and Infection Prevention and Control, Dr Marjoree Sehu, said antimicrobial resistance could have an impact on how healthcare professionals manage and treat infections with antibiotics.

“The impact of losing antibiotics is severe,” Dr Sehu said. “Without antibiotics we would not be able to perform transplant operation, give chemotherapy or perform basic surgery without significant risk.”

“If the bacteria becomes resistant to antibiotics, it’s not only going to be difficult to treat an infection, but all other advances in medicine could cease.”

Antimicrobial resistance is already affecting the care of patients around the world, and current trends indicate antimicrobial resistance will have an increasing impact over time.

Infectious Disease Physician, Dr Peter Kelley, sees antimicrobial resistance as a “worldwide pandemic in its own right” due to increasing resistance across the globe.

Dr Kelley says while antimicrobial resistance is indeed a problem in Australia, it is not yet as severe as it is in other countries, which he positively attributes to strict antimicrobial surveillance systems in place across Australia to ensure antibiotics are being distributed and used correctly.

Using antimicrobials correctly is extremely important. Due to overuse, some antimicrobials are no longer able to be used to treat infections because we have gained resistance against them. Taking antimicrobials as prescribed by doctors is the best way to combat antimicrobial resistance.

Dr Sehu said she encouraged clinicians to think about antimicrobial resistance when issuing antibiotics as a treatment. She said clinicians should think about whether the antibiotic was the correct one, whether the patient really needed it and to ensure the patient knew how it worked and how long to take it for.

The Antimicrobial Stewardship program at Peninsula Health promotes the appropriate use, selection, dosage and duration of antimicrobials, which helps improve patient outcomes and safety, while reducing antimicrobial resistance.

For more information and resources, visit: https://linktr.ee/AntimicrobialAwarenessWeek