With very few new antibiotics that have developed in recent years, health care agencies say that their responsible use is absolutely critical to human health.
The Ministry of Health, PHARMAC, ACC, Health Quality and Safety Commission and the Council for Medical College's Wisely campaign support the World Antibiotic Awareness Week 2018 ongoing.
Dr Sally Roberts, clinical leader of the Commission's infection prevention and control program, said that the time to develop new antibiotics combined with lack of drug company incentives to produce them means antibiotic resistance – when bacteria are exposed to an antibiotic and change to resist its effects – is an increasing threat .
"The time frame for developing a new antibiotic is 10-15 years and it is not very profitable for companies because antibiotics are usually used for short courses. As a result, the antibiotic line has decreased.
"With antibiotic resistance in global growth, it is important to preserve the remaining antibiotics we have. They need to be treated as valuable goods and not inseparably used when they are not necessary.
"To avoid infections primarily reduces the amount of antibiotics that must be used, which reduces the ability for bacteria to resist them. The best way to avoid infections is to clean your hands regularly and carefully."
PHARMAC Medical Director, John Wyeth, says that antibiotics are not always the best treatment for some common infections, and it is important to know occasionally not to take them.
"Colds and flu can not be solved by antibiotics because they are caused by viruses, not bacteria. Antibiotics also do not help most ear infections get better faster.
"Your doctor will tell you if antibiotics are the right treatment for you. Trust their advice and do not expect antibiotics every time." We must all help keep antibiotics functioning. "
Dr Derek Sherwood from the Choosing Wisely campaign says an increasing number of infections, such as pneumonia, tuberculosis and gonorrhea, become increasingly difficult to treat because the antibiotics used to treat them become less effective.
Antibioticsists lead to longer hospital stays, higher medical costs and increased mortality.
Choosing the Wisely website has a number of resources for consumers with information about when antibiotics are not needed and options for treating common diseases.
Dr Caroline McElnay, Public Health Officer at the Ministry of Health, says it is important to have a coherent response to dealing with antibiotic resistance.
"Health agencies cooperate with other important stakeholders, especially the Ministry of Primary Industries and Organizations in the Agricultural Sector.
"This collaboration means that antibiotic resistance is more than just a health problem and has the potential to affect so many areas of our lives, including agriculture and food production.
"By working with partners across New Zealand and around the world, we make sure New Zealand is well-equipped to deal with antibiotic resistance," said Dr. McElnay.