Experts take on superbugs at national forum

8 November 2019

World experts have gathered at The University of Queensland’s National Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Forum to discuss strategies to combat drug-resistant ‘superbugs’ and control antibiotic use.

UQ convenor Professor Jason Roberts said it was important to hear different perspectives when formulating strategies to manage antibiotic resistance.

“Our vision for this Forum is to integrate the efforts of different health disciplines, optimize the use of current antibiotics in human and animal medicine and thwart uncontrolled AMR,” Professor Roberts said.

Drug-resistant bacteria which are commonly called ‘superbugs’ pose a major threat to human and animal health.

“As each new drug comes through, we see even shorter turnaround times for resistance to develop to those new drugs,” he said.

“Over the past 10-15 years in Australia, the growth and expansion in the number of bacteria resistant to common antibiotics has been alarming.

“Because there are greater levels of resistance in the community when someone gets sick, we need to use bigger ‘gun’ antibiotics to try and treat those patients.

“We’ve seen a big change over the last decade in what we prescribe as first-line antibiotics when patients show symptoms of infection, to make sure we are treating potential ‘superbugs’ as well.”

Quadruple amputee Matthew Ames is candid about the devastating effects of antibiotic resistance after he lost his arms and legs to a bacterial infection in 2012.

The 46-year-old father shared his story at a panel discussion on Thursday afternoon (7 November).

“Stories like Matthew’s remind us of how terrible diseases can be. It also gives us insight into what elements of care we should be trying to improve to make their experience in the health care system as painless or tolerable as possible,” Professor Roberts said.

“It’s really important to keep in mind that we are studying for the benefit of patients and society.”

Discussions around cooperative programs, including better use of antimicrobial stewardship programs, have been the main focus of the forum.

International keynote speaker Professor Sara Cosgrove detailed how an antimicrobial stewardship program had reduced the emergence of resistant superbugs in the John Hopkins Institute, USA.

Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young opened the conference, sharing details about Queensland’s own soon-to-be-released state-wide AMR Strategy.   

Media: Professor Jason Roberts; Faculty of Medicine Communications,, +61 7 3365 5118, +61 436 368 746.