Antibiotic resistance is everyone’s problem - be part of the solution

18 November 2013

Marking the start of Antibiotic Awareness Week 2013, NPS MedicineWise says Australia needs coordinated and collective action to address the spread of antibiotic-resistant superbugs in both humans and animals.

CEO of NPS MedicineWise, Dr Lynn Weekes, says the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria threatens to undermine one of this century’s most important and life-saving advances in medicine.

Dr Weekes says antibiotic resistance is everyone’s problem and today urges policy-makers; professionals across the health, pharmaceutical, science and agricultural industries; and the community at large to band together to preserve the miracle of antibiotics.

“Globally, and in Australia, we’re facing a return to the pre-antibiotic era where even minor infections could cause death. This is undoubtedly a grave threat to human health but we know it also has implications for veterinary practice and agriculture,” says Dr Weekes.

During the global Antibiotic Awareness Week, NPS MedicineWise is working with the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, the Australian Veterinary Association, and the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, to lead the fight against antibiotic resistance.

NPS MedicineWise says it’s time for the Australian community to take the threat of antibiotic resistance seriously and recognise it is not just a problem within hospitals.

“Most people know that bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics. In fact we’ve seen a 22% increase in this awareness since we launched our ‘antibiotic resistance fighter’ campaign in 2012,” says Dr Weekes.

“But most people still don’t see that the problem is on their own doorstep. Many people still haven’t changed their behaviour, and too few people know that they have a critical role to play in the fight against antibiotic resistance.”

In research released today^, NPS MedicineWise found that 62% of people surveyed didn’t realise that antibiotic resistance is a major problem in the Australian community, and only 55% had considered the possibility that they could be personally affected by it.

The findings also indicate that many people are putting their faith in health professionals to solve the problem. While 84% of people think that health professionals can help stop the spread of antibiotic resistance in Australia, only 51% think that they can make a difference themselves.

“We know that individual behaviour can influence whether or not antibiotic resistant bacteria develop in our communities. Once we carry antibiotic-resistant bacteria, we can pass them on to others, with the result that some antibiotics won’t be able to treat these resistant bacteria,” says Dr Weekes.

“With around 19 million prescriptions written in Australia every year, we are some of the highest users of antibiotics in the developed world. It’s time we stopped contributing to the problem and starting working together on a solution – everyone has a responsibility to preserve the miracle of these life-saving medicines today.”

Join the fight against antibiotic resistance at

Learn more about antibiotic resistance and appropriate use of antibiotics at

^Poll of 1000 Australians aged 18 and over conducted by UMR research in July 2013.


Independent, evidence-based and not-for-profit, NPS MedicineWise enables better decisions about medicines and medical tests. We are funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing.

If you are a journalist seeking comment on a story or more information on any of our programs or campaigns please contact one of our media advisers: Stephanie Childs on 02 8217 8667 or Erin Jardine on 02 8217 8733 (during office hours) or call the NPS MedicineWise media phone on 0419 618 365 (for urgent media requests outside of office hours). If your enquiry is not urgent you can also send us an email.