It’s time to take antibiotic resistance seriously

Antibiotic awareness week (November 12–18) is an annual, global event that aims to raise awareness and understanding about antibiotic resistance.

The World Health Organisation has warned that antibiotic resistance is one the greatest threats to human health and happens when bacteria changes to protect themselves from an antibiotic.

Overuse and misuse of antibiotics is increasing the problem of antibiotic resistance and we are all part of the problem and the solution.

Last year, we saw chief medical officers of some of the world's biggest employers urge people to change their attitude towards antibiotics as common treatments become less effective.

Members of the Global Chief Medical Officers’ (CMO) Network signed a pledge on antimicrobial resistance that urges companies to support the appropriate use of antibiotics, as resistance is on the rise. The CMO Network is a group of some of the world’s largest employers, powered by Bupa.

This year, Bupa announced Bupa Aged Care and the Bupa Health Foundation are supporting an Australian first trial into deadly superbugs in nursing homes that will see a team of researchers monitor the use of antibiotics.

The program will be piloted in two of Bupa’s care homes to help identify proper treatment of infections and the overprescribing of antibiotics.

Australia has been reported to have one of the highest antibiotic prescription rates in the world with around 30 million antibiotics prescribed annually.

There are growing fears globally about strains of bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotic drugs. Due to the nature of illness and vulnerability of elderly residents, it is of particular concern in aged care homes.

To help identify the source and spread of the superbug bacteria, researchers from Mon­ash University and Alfred Health will use ­cutting-edge genomic technology as part of the $2.3m program.

Dr Tim Ross, Director of Medical Services, Bupa Villages and Aged Care said programs like this are important to help reduce the rate of antibiotic over prescription.

The use of antibiotics is an issue throughout all of the Australian population. Having an opportunity to co-create programs that lead to a better use of antibiotics is something that Bupa is proud to be a part of.
Dr Tim Ross, Director of Medical Services, Bupa Villages and Aged Care

“Our residents often have multiple medical problems and can be on many medications. Rationalising the use of these medications is one of the key aims when a resident enters one of our homes to reduce the chance of antibiotic resistant bugs developing,” he said.

The problem of antibiotic resistance belongs to everyone and it’s everybody’s responsibility to take antibiotic resistance seriously.

Think twice before taking antibiotics:

Ask the question – do I really need antibiotics?

  • Don’t demand antibiotics if your health worker says you don’t need them.
  • Always follow your qualified health professional’s advice when using antibiotics.
  • Don’t share or reuse antibiotics - Only take antibiotics prescribed for you, by your doctor for that illness – each bacterial infection is different and will respond to different types of antibiotics. This means taking antibiotics designed for a urinary tract infection, for your cough won’t work, and will only increase antibiotic resistance.
  • Be patient. Not all infections are bacterial, and even when they are caused by bacteria this doesn’t mean your body won’t be able to fight it off. More often than not you need time, rest and fluids, not antibiotics.

Prevent the spread of infections:

  • Prepare food hygienically
  • Avoiding close contact with sick people
  • Wash your hand regularly and cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing - Regular hand washing (using soap and running water) keeps your hands clean and can help stop the spread of all infectious bugs, including antibiotic-resistant bacteria.


Why you need to care about antibiotic use and resistance

Bupa takes the lead in fighting superbugs in aged care

Do you really need those antibiotics?

Bupa leads push to stop antibiotic overuse