Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist June 2012 Contents 458 Australian Pharmacist June 2012 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd.
After all the doom and gloom, I believe
there is cause for optimism -- if we
change our behaviour now there
is a good chance we can slow or
even reverse the development of
But we need to take action at all levels
-- individuals, health professionals,
communities, media, industry and
government. We must act strongly, and
we must act now. Where do we begin?
Based on our research, addressing
the misconceptions held by every day
Australians when it comes to antibiotics
and antibiotic resistance, is clearly a good
place to start.
It is fair to say our attitudes towards
antibiotics are fairly ingrained into the
psyche of many Australians, so trying to
change this is no small task. But engaging
the community is essential to the success
of any public health intervention. NPS has
launched the consumer phase of its new
campaign against antibiotic resistance.
To run over ve years, the campaign
will raise awareness among Australians
about antibiotic resistance and its causes,
and encourage positive behaviour
change so that consumers are not seeking
antibiotics for conditions where they are
In late April we launched advertising
and community service announcements
on television, in print and online, to
raise awareness of this important public
We are asking all Australians to take
an active role by becoming resistance
ghters and join the ght against
antibiotic resistance. By taking a few
simple steps, everyday Australians can
help to combat the development and
spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria in
Through a dedicated Facebook page,
people can login and commit to a few
simple actions that will potentially have a
large impact on usage of antibiotics.
• Don't ask or expect antibiotics if you
have a cold or u, as these are caused
by viruses which antibiotics cannot and
do not treat.
• When prescribed antibiotics for
an infection, take them exactly as
directed as not doing so increases
• Always practice good hygiene to stop
the spread of germs
• And spread the message to encourage
others to become resistance ghters
Other tools and resources to help
change attitudes and behaviours
towards antibiotic use include online
content, educational material for use
in workplaces and community settings
and an antibiotics iPhone app (being
launched this month) which will help
people take their prescribed antibiotics
exactly as directed.
Focus on young people
Our research told us that young people
have less knowledge about the correct
use of antibiotics than older generations,
which is why interventions that engage
this age group are a particular focus
All of this runs alongside our campaign
for health professionals. We have an
ambitious goal to reduce the incidence
of antibiotic prescribing by 25% in ve
years. This will bring Australia in line with
the OECD average of de ned daily dose
of antibiotics per capita/per day and give
us a real chance to reduce the incidence
of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the
To help us achieve this, we are working
with GPs, pharmacists, nurses and other
health professionals to promote the use
of best-practice guidelines for infections,
encourage symptomatic management
of colds and u, and to facilitate better
patient conversations when discussing
antibiotic resistance and the correct use
NPS has a long track record of successfully
working with individuals and health
professionals to change behaviour
and achieve better health outcomes.
However, this is a public health issue
that ultimately demands a multi sectoral
response. Everyone needs to play a part.
There are some excellent examples of
work internationally that can help guide
us as Australia grapples with this issue.
In Sweden in 1994, a program involving
collaboration between government,
industry and the media was established.
The end result was a 22% reduction in
antibiotic prescribing over four years.
In 2010, a study showed that 78% of the
Swedish population was willing to abstain
from antibiotics. One of the key success
factors to their work was engagement of
the media, and keeping this issue at the
forefront of the public's mind.
We need a similar approach here if we
hope to have a real impact.
Great leadership is already being provided
-- by clinicians, academics, professional
and consumer groups, and government.
We have a National Medicines Policy that
is the envy of the world, and a support
structure that can enact real change.
Recently the Australian Health Ministers'
Advisory Council (AHMAC) established a
national committee to address the issue
of antibiotic resistance. This involves
partners from across relevant sectors
and includes the Australian Commission
for Safety and Quality in Health Care,
the National Health and Medical Research
Council and NPS. Reporting to the
Chief Medical O cer, this committee
will be fundamental in focusing
The campaign against
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