Handle antibiotics with care!

19 Nov 2015 | Infection Prevention & Control

Everyone has a part to play in reducing the threat of antibiotic resistance. This week is World Antibiotic Awareness Week.

Antibiotic use leads to resistance; after a course of antibiotics the bacteria causing infection and our normal resident bacteria are more likely to become resistant to that antibiotic. So, commonly used antibiotics may become less effective.

Everyone can take action by not expecting to be prescribed antibiotics when they have viral infections, and when they are prescribed antibiotics, taking them only as directed.

Misuse of antibiotics, such as not finishing treatment, or sharing leftover antibiotics with others, can contribute to the resistance problem.

Without effective antibiotics, infections which were easy to treat may become untreatable – or new antibiotic-resistant illnesses may arise, such as E.coli which produces the antibiotic-resistant enzyme ESBL, an emerging problem in New Zealand.

New Zealand has good infection prevention and control measures, including hand hygiene and patient screening. These are helping slow the spread of antibiotic-resistant diseases here, which are prevalent in countries such as the United States and Australia.

In May 2015, the 68th World Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland endorsed a global action plan to tackle antimicrobial resistance through communication, education and training.

The Health Quality & Safety Commission is partnering with the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care to support World Antibiotic Awareness Week and encourage all health providers to raise people’s awareness of this issue.

If we treat antibiotics with care, together we can make a difference and build a better future.

Links to national and international resources, including posters, infographics and multimedia materials are available on the Health Quality & Safety Commission website. These resources are aimed at health professionals, consumers and health care providers.

World Antibiotic Awareness Week runs from 16 to 22 November, with the theme ‘Antibiotics: handle with care’. Its endorsement by the World Health Organization reflects the global importance of this growing public health concern.

For more information, check out the following links:

New Zealand

BPAC NZ Antibiotics Guide bpac Antibiotics Guide

BPAC NZ’s articles on antibiotic resistance and stewardship: http://www.bpac.org.nz/ListByCategory.aspx?CategoryId=53

Health Quality & Safety Commission’s hand hygiene page: http://www.hqsc.govt.nz/our-programmes/infection-prevention-and-control/projects/hand-hygiene/


Australian Commission for Safety and Quality in Healthcare


NPS MedicineWise antibiotic videos on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pan2t1BUlvY&feature=youtu.be&list=PL4329CA1F2C954FCE


European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) Antibiotic Awareness Day website, including patient stories and infographics: http://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/eaad/Pages/Home.aspx


NHS England’s Antibiotic Awareness Campaign website: http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/ARC/Pages/AboutARC.aspx


World Health Organization’s global report on antimicrobial resistance: http://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/eaad/Pages/Home.aspx

World Health Organization’s ‘Worldwide country situation analysis: Response to antimicrobial resistance: WHO report on global response to AMR

World Health Organization’s hand hygiene poster: Stop the spread: It takes 5 moments


Consumer video: Sometimes no prescription is the right prescription  AMR video for consumers

US Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC)

Get Smart about Antibiotics Week resources for consumers and health professionals: Get Smart about Antibiotics Week 2015

Last updated 13/01/2016