How you can help prevent antibiotic resistance

Help prevent antibiotic resistance 

Antibiotic resistance has been labelled by the World Health Organisation as “one of the most serious global health threats of our time” 1 – and it’s easy to see why.

Not only are antibiotic resistant bacterial infections much harder to treat, they also leave sufferers sicker and infectious for longer – giving these “superbugs” more of an opportunity to spread.

Funded by the Australian Government, NPS (National Prescribing Service) MedicineWise – an independent, not-for-profit and evidence-based organisation – says antibiotic resistance happens “when bacteria change to protect themselves from an antibiotic”.

It’s after this change taking place that “antibiotics that previously would have killed the bacteria, or stopped them from multiplying, no longer work”.

NPS MedicineWise puts the cause of antibiotic resistance down to two things: when antibiotics are unnecessarily taken to treat colds and flu, and when they’re taken against a doctor’s instructions, in the wrong dose or at the wrong time.

Australia is one of the highest users of antibiotics per person in the developed world, with around 22 million prescriptions written every year in primary care2. But NPS MedicineWise plan on bringing this consumption rate down by 25% over the next five years – and you can play a part in helping them hit this target.

Five ways to prevent antibiotic resistance

  1. Understand that most of us don't need antibiotics for colds and flu since they’re caused by viruses
  2. Tell your doctor you only want an antibiotic if it’s completely necessary
  3. Take the right dose of your antibiotic at the right time, as prescribed by your doctor
  4. Only take your antibiotics for as long as your doctor tells you to
  5. From always washing your hands with warm soapy water to staying home whenever you’re sick, take steps to avoid infections and prevent them from spreading – plus take the pledge to fight antibiotic resistance.

To learn more about the fight to beat antibiotic resistance, head to



  2. The University of Queensland, “Australia’s antibiotic overload the target of new study” -


Information provided in this article is not medical advice and you should consult with your healthcare practitioner. Australian Unity accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of any of the opinions, advice, representations or information contained in this publication. Readers should rely on their own advice and enquiries in making decisions affecting their own health, wellbeing or interest.