Australia to launch 20-year plan to counter rise of superbugs

Source: Xinhua| 2019-06-17 10:01:11|Editor: mingmei
Video PlayerClose

CANBERRA, June 17 (Xinhua) -- Australia's Department of Health has flagged a major crackdown on the overuse of antibiotics in a bid to curb the spread of superbugs.

News Corp Australian reported on Monday that under changes being considered by the department, doctors would be prevented from prescribing repeats of antibiotics.

The new strategy is the result of a review of Australia's five-year anti-microbial resistance strategy, which found that the problem of superbugs has grown so great that a 20-year plan is needed.

Approximately 50 percent of prescriptions issued by doctors are done so with repeats, meaning that those prescribed correctly could still be misused.

"There is a need to map the current regulatory framework against the antimicrobial supply chain and antimicrobial use (and superbug) trends in human and animal health to identify areas where regulation could be applied or streamlined to support efforts to reduce antimicrobial resistance," a consultation paper on the next strategy said.

The third annual superbug surveillance report by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, which was published in May, found that overuse and misuse of antibiotics was rife in aged-care facilities and hospitals.

It warned that E. coli, salmonella, Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Neisseria meningitidis were all becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics, making them significantly harder to treat.

Once approved by bureaucrats, the 20-year plan will go to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) before it is implemented.

It comes as the government on Monday launched the first ever national pain strategy, under which doctors will be taught to stop prescribing drugs for pain and instead told to order exercise for treatment.

More than 3.2 million Australians live with chronic pain and many become addicted to opioid medications such as morphine.

"There is a screaming need here because pain is a significant burden on the economy, on society and the health system," Pain Australia chief executive Carol Bennett said.