Antibiotic Awareness Week

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC) coordinates Antibiotic Awareness Week in Australia as part of a global initiative to raise awareness of antibiotic resistance and promote the responsible use of antibiotics.

Antibiotic resistance has been identified as one of the greatest threats to human health today.

“The loss of effective antibiotics will undermine our ability to fight infectious diseases and manage the infectious complications common in vulnerable patients undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, dialysis for renal failure, and surgery, especially organ transplantation, for which the ability to treat secondary infections is crucial.” 1 

The prevalence of multidrug-resistant bacterial pathogens is rising worldwide. Patients with infections due to resistant bacteria experience delayed recovery and treatment failure and are more likely to die than patients with infections from non-resistant bacteria.

Antibiotic Awareness Week occurs annually in November.

Key messages for Antibiotic Awareness Week

The following are key messages for sharing with clinicians and consumers:  

  • Antibiotics are a precious resource that could be lost.
  • Antibiotic resistance is happening now - it is a worldwide problem that affects human and animal health.
  • Antibiotic resistance happens when bacteria develop defences that stop antibiotics from working effectively - meaning some infections may be impossible to treat.
  • Few new antibiotics are being developed to help solve this problem.
  • Misuse of antibiotics contributes to antibiotic resistance.
  • Whenever antibiotics must be used, they must be used with care.

Resources for Antibiotic Awareness Week

To assist hospitals and health service facilities promote Antibiotic Awareness Week, the ACSQHC has developed resources. Resources available include:

  • email signature block
  • fact sheet
  • ideas for activities and events
  • logo
  • planning check list
  • pocket cards
  • poster
  • presentation  (PowerPoint)
  • quiz
  • social media guide
  • web banner

A range of posters and infographics are available from the World Health Organization’s Antibiotic Awareness Week page.

National Prescribing Service (NPS)

NPS MedicineWise encourages both healthcare professionals and consumers to use antibiotics wisely. Health professionals are encouraged to have the sometimes challenging conversations with patients and carers when antibiotics are not appropriate. Fact sheets are available to assist prescribers and provide information for patients about childhood respiratory tract infections. The NPS also has a range of resources to support Antibiotic Awareness Week.

Antibiotic Awareness Day global chat

There are Twitter discussions all week. Join the conversation and learn more about the problem of antibiotic resistance and safe antibiotic use. Many clinicians and organisations participate.

Follow the Commission @ACSQHC on Twitter, using the hashtags #AAW2019 #WAAW #AntibioticResistance and #AMR for the global Twitter chat. 

Antimicrobial prescribing e-learning

The ACSQHC and NPS have developed a series of online learning modules for healthcare professionals to promote and support the responsible prescribing of antibiotics.

How Local Health Networks can support Antibiotic Awareness Week

SA Health Local Health Networks can support Antibiotic Awareness Week through:

  • presentations at grand rounds and other staff education sessions
  • display of posters within hospitals
  • information booths with resources from ACSQHC/ NPS/ SA Health and consumer handouts
  • utilising social media to promote key Antibiotic Awareness Week messages.

Further information

For further information on Antibiotic Awareness Week activities in South Australia, email SA Health's Infection Control Service.

Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2013. US Department of Health and Human Services, Center for Disease Control and Prevention

* Source: Therapeutic guidelines: Antibiotics, Version 15, 2014

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