As Antibiotic Awareness Week draws to a close this weekend, NPS MedicineWise is calling on parents to continue the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria and reduce the spread of superbugs in the community.
New Research* commissioned by NPS MedicineWise reveals that only around half (56%) of parents with children under five understand the risk of antibiotic resistance, and less than 2 in 5 know how their own behaviour could contribute to the problem.
Chair of NPS MedicineWise, Dr Janette Randall, says the findings highlight an opportunity to change the way people think about antibiotics, not just now but in generations to come.
"More people are beginning to understand that antibiotic resistance poses a real threat to our health, but our research tells us that many people, not just parents, don't know how to become part of the solution.
"It's clear that changing community attitudes and supporting people to make informed decisions about their healthcare is a vital step in the fight against antibiotic resistance," says Dr Randall.
"But when we're talking about a problem that could undo a miracle of modern medicine and send us back to a pre-antibiotic era by 2030, we're talking about a problem that parents are uniquely positioned to help solve.
"As parents, we guard our children's health with our lives and as they grow up, we try to support them in making medicinewise decisions for themselves. If we want to protect our kids from the threat of superbugs, we need to act now to change the way our families use antibiotics so we can preserve these life-saving medicines."
Whilst the World Health Organization has identified antibiotic resistance as one of the greatest threats to human health today, Dr Randall says the problem is not insurmountable.
"When we use antibiotics incorrectly, bacteria have a far greater chance of becoming resistant to antibiotic treatment in the future. This is a problem we can all help to solve.
"If you or your children need antibiotics, use them exactly prescribed. Take them in the right amount, at the right times and for the full duration of the course - even if you start to feel better."
Dr Randall also stresses that knowledge is one of the most important weapons in the fight against antibiotic resistance.
This week NPS MedicineWise launched a short film, featuring Dr John D'Arcy, highlighting the global risk of superbugs and the simple ways everyone can help to preserve the miracle of antibiotics.
"Understanding the problem, knowing what you can do to help, and sharing that knowledge with your children makes yours a family of resistance fighters. Super mums and dads really can reduce the spread of superbugs."
Resources, tools and information about the week is available at www.nps.org.au/antibiotic-awareness
Become an antibiotic resistance fighter at www.facebook.com/NPSMedicineWise.
Watch the new film featuring Dr John D'Arcy at http://youtube/P9Y8Kgba3F4 (after 4pm)
*Survey of 1,019 people by Research Now for NPS MedicineWise in June 2012