Australia needs co-ordination on superbugs

Australia needs co-ordination on superbugs – 29th June, 2017

A meeting of infectious diseases professionals is calling for a new co-ordinating body to oversee work to slow the spread of antibiotic resistance in Australia.

Australia needs a national body to co-ordinate the work to slow the spread of superbugs, experts say.

Austin Health infectious diseases director Professor Lindsay Grayson says Australia is at a key crossroads in dealing with the rise of antimicrobial resistance, which the World Health Organisation has called a global crisis.

“We know that we’ve got a great health system and we’ve got the tools to control these superbugs,” Prof Grayson told AAP.

“Within Australia we need better co-ordination than has currently been the case if we’re going to be successful.”

An emergency summit of 300 infectious diseases experts in Melbourne on Thursday is calling for recognition that antibiotic resistant superbugs are a major patient safety issue, and is seeking a commitment to establish a national co-ordinating authority.

Currently only Tasmania requires mandatory reporting of superbugs, Prof Grayson said.

“We need to consider it like a safety issue, like an aeroplane, where you have laws that force people to report them and force you to act if you have them.”

Prof Grayson said a central authority is needed to co-ordinate areas such as infection control, surveillance and the usage of antibiotics.

He said unless Australia is careful, it will catch up with other parts of the world where there has been an alarming spread of superbugs.

“Unfortunately we’re seeing resistant superbugs pretty much every week now.”

He said two or three years ago most superbugs were found in people with weakened immune systems after transplants or cancer, whereas now infections are increasing in otherwise healthy people who have been in overseas hospitals.

“Once they get into the (Australian) hospital system you only have to make one mistake and you get the spread of these bugs,” he said.


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