Over the last five years, the lead organisation in Australia, NPS MedicineWise, has had a remit to address antimicrobial stewardship, said Mr Bell. To date, the NPS has focused on health professional education, especially with regards RTIs, urinary tract infections, and skin and soft tissue infections. Last year at the annual conference of the Pharmaceutical Society,
there was particular focus on antimicrobial stewardship. In addition, the Chief Medical Officer, John Turnage, also discussed the appropriate length of courses for antibacterial therapy and concluded that despite recent news, it seems that most consumers believe that you must finish the course of antibiotics.
Every year during the cold and flu season, NPS MedicineWise in conjunction with the medical practitioner and pharmacy groups,
have campaigns aimed at consumers in workplaces, schools and childcare centres. Mr Bell explained that despite World Antibiotic
Awareness Week (WAAW) not occurring at the most appropriate time in the southern hemisphere, they continue to run on-going campaigns to coincide with this global initiative.
We have seen some benefits insofar as how the campaign has gone over the last five years, but there is certainly still a long way to go
Mr John Bell
The results of this five-year campaign have been encouraging, but not fantastic, concluded Mr Bell. There has been an increase in the consumer perception of what antibiotics do from 53% to over 70%. However, most parents believe upper respiratory tract symptoms in children should last no longer than one week and if they do, then you should start antibiotics. With regards to the number of antibiotic prescriptions, a recent publication showed a 14% total reduction in the number of dispensed antibiotics during the time period from 2004 through 2014/15.