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Antibiotic resistance research set to continue after huge funding boost

Bond University academics are among a team of researchers awarded almost $4 million to reduce the overprescription of antibiotics for common conditions such as sore throat, sinusitis and colds. 

About 1600 Australians die every year from antibiotic-resistant infections which proliferate because of the overuse and misuse of antibiotics.

Assistant Professor Mina Bakhit 

The team, led by Professor Paul Glasziou, the Director of Bond University’s Institute for Evidence Based Healthcare, will collaborate with GPs, practice managers, nurses and patients to co-design intervention packages that reduce unnecessary antibiotic use.  

Professor Glasziou and his colleagues Professor Tammy Hoffman and the late Professor Chris Del Mar spent over 15 years conducting research into the overprescription of antibiotics.

Assistant Professor Mina Bakhit of Bond University is a chief investigator on the grant and said it would build on work funded by two earlier grants.

“The other two were mostly about generating evidence. This one will be the first multi-state implementation trial to actually apply the evidence that was generated across the years and put it into practice,” Dr Bakhit said. 

Dr Bakhit said antibiotic resistance was a major problem worldwide and particularly in Australia. 

“The number of deaths due to antibiotic-resistant infection is expected to increase because antibiotics are being used everywhere,” Dr Bakhit said. 

“It’s crucial to reduce antibiotic use in primary care as it's currently being prescribed by GPs at rates nine times higher than recommended by the national antibiotic guidelines.

“The main thing we’d like to achieve is to increase awareness and understanding of GPs that effective antimicrobial stewardship interventions actually can be integrated in routine consultation.

“This could lead to a transformation in patient care and management. 

“And then on the patient side, hopefully this will improve care and help reduce the harms that come with inappropriate antibiotic use and potentially save lives.” 

The ultimate goal for the group of researchers would be to have their work implemented on a national level, similar to the Swedish program STRAMA which has been in place for more than 20 years and Sweden now has one of lowest levels of antibiotic use in the world. 

The latest five-year grant is funded by the federal government’s Medical Research Future Fund.

Other institutions participating in this research include the University of Melbourne, The University of Adelaide and The University of Newcastle. 

Partner organisations include Therapeutic Guidelines Limited, The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC), Health Translation Queensland (HTQ), WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) and Victorian primary care practice-based Research and Education Network. 

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