Statement from Australia’s Chief Medical Officer and Chief Veterinary Officer on how Australians can reduce antibiotic resistance

Statement from Australia’s Chief Medical Officer and Chief Veterinary Officer on how Australians can reduce antibiotic resistance

World Antibiotic Awareness Week, 12 – 18 November 2018

Antibiotic resistance remains a serious and long-term threat to human and animal health in Australia and around the world. Antibiotics are important medicines that have saved millions of lives. While we have seen some reduction in antibiotic use in Australia in recent years, we continue to overuse them.

The more antibiotics Australians use, and we use a lot, the more chance bacteria have to become resistant to them. These resistant bacteria can then spread between people and between animals and people. Without effective antibiotics many bacterial infections could, and do, cause serious illness or in a worst case scenario, death.

World Antibiotic Awareness Week is an opportunity to remind Australians that antibiotics only work against infections caused by bacteria and should only be used where a human health professional or veterinarian considers they will be of benefit.

This is not just an issue for government, we all need to take responsibility and reduce our antibiotic use where it is safe and appropriate to do so. This includes human and animal health professionals, livestock farmers as well as everyday Australians.

We ask all Australians to reflect on their antibiotic use and take these simple actions to reduce the threat of antibiotic resistance in Australia:

  • only use antibiotics as directed
  • don’t share antibiotics or save them for another time
  • ensure that you always follow your health professional’s advice when using antibiotics
  • prevent infections spreading in the first place by:
    • regular hand washing
    • coughing sneezing into a tissue or your elbow
    • keeping vaccinations up to date
    • practising good biosecurity, and on-farm hygiene; providing adequate nutrition to and vaccinating your animals if you are an animal owner or farmer.

More information on how to reduce antibiotic use and the spread of resistant bacteria can be found on the AMR website.

Professor Brendan Murphy, Australian Government Chief Medical Officer

Dr Mark Schipp, Australian Chief Veterinary Officer

Date published: 
12 November 2018