World Antibiotics awareness week

This year’s World Health Organization (WHO) theme is seek advice from a qualified health care professional before taking antibiotics.

Antibiotics are a precious resource, so it is important to get the right advice before taking them. This not only ensures you and your family get the best treatment, but responsible use of antibiotics will also help reduce the threat of antibiotic resistance.

Key messages for World Antibiotic Awareness Week 2017

General information

  • Antibiotics are a precious resource. These medicines are essential for treating bacterial infections in both humans and animals
  • Antibiotic resistance stops an antibiotic from working effectively against bacteria – meaning some infections may become impossible to treat
  • Antibiotics are difficult to make. There are very few new ones being developed, which is why it is important we use those we have wisely and make sure these life-saving medicines continue to stay effective for ourselves and future generations
  • Antibiotic resistance is a worldwide problem that affects us all. Without antibiotics, we could face a situation where cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, organ transplants and other medical procedures are no longer possible. Bacterial infections which are treatable today could become deadly
  • Inappropriate use of antibiotics contributes to antibiotic resistance. Inappropriate use includes:
    • Inappropriate prescribing
    • People sharing their medicines
    • Not taking antibiotics as recommended.
  • Taking antibiotics against cold or flu viruses won’t help people feel better faster. Antibiotics are effective against bacterial infections only. They do not work against viral infections
  • Follow the advice of health professionals on how to take antibiotics
  • In August 2017, New Zealand began implementing a five-year Antimicrobial Resistance Action Plan to minimise the impact of antimicrobial resistance to human, animal and plant health. The Ministry of Health and Ministry for Primary Industries are working with a wide range of groups and organisations on action plan activities covering five different areas: awareness and understanding; surveillance and research; infection prevention and control; antimicrobial stewardship; and governance, collaboration and investment.


  • It is important we use antibiotics the right way, at the right dose, at the right time, for the right duration
  • By using antibiotics carefully, bacteria are less likely to become resistant to them
  • Talk to your health professional about whether you are likely to have a bacterial infection needing antibiotics, or a viral infection which antibiotics won’t help
  • Everyone has a part to play in reducing antibiotic resistance:
    • Hand washing can help prevent the spread of germs, reducing the need for antibiotics
    • Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and putting the used tissue in a waste bin can help reduce the spread of germs
    • Never use ‘leftover’ antibiotics or share your antibiotics with others. Return unused medicines to your pharmacy for appropriate disposal
    • Vaccinations can stop you getting and spreading infections that may need treatment with antibiotics.

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