The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is supporting this year's World Antibiotic Awareness Week theme of 'Together we can keep antibiotics working’.
Research shows that the global growth of antimicrobial resistance is undermining the effectiveness of antibiotics. Each November, World Antibiotic Awareness Week aims to increase global awareness of antibiotic resistance and encourage best practice to prevent its spread. This year, World Antibiotic Week runs from 12 November to 18 November.
"Antibiotics are a precious resource. These medicines are essential for treating bacterial infections in humans and animals. There are very few new types of antibiotics being developed, which is why it is important that those we have are used wisely and ensure these life-saving medicines continue to stay effective. We need to make sure they are used properly," says MPI's director of assurance, Allan Kinsella.
"Last year, New Zealand began implementing a 5-year antimicrobial resistance action plan to minimise the impact of antimicrobial resistance to human, animal and plant health. This is part of a global response. The Ministry of Health and MPI are working with a wide range of groups and organisations to implement the plan.
"Like humans, animals sometimes need antibiotics to fight off bacterial infections. Without antibiotics, animal welfare and health would be severely impacted. Inappropriate use of antibiotics can lead to resistant bacteria that cause disease in both animals and plants, and potentially in humans via contact with infected animals or contaminated food.
"New Zealand has a robust regulatory framework for managing antibiotics and other veterinary medicines. MPI must be satisfied that all antibiotics approved for use in animals are appropriate to the animal before it is registered as a veterinary medicine. Antibiotics for therapeutic uses in animals are classed by MPI as restricted veterinary medicines and need a veterinary prescription before use.
"We advise pet owners and farmers to follow the antibiotic dosage and treatment instructions exactly as prescribed by your veterinarian. Always give the full course of antibiotics, even if the animal appears to have recovered.
"Everyone has a part to play in reducing antibiotic resistance. 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," says Mr Kinsella.