Media Release: New Zealand College of Public
Health Medicine, 21 September 2016
New Zealanders face a looming health crisis, because some
relatively common infections are developing resistance to the
medicines that are usually used to treat them.
The NZ College of Public Health Medicine (NZCPHM) is warning
that antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a major public health issue
that could cause 10 million deaths globally each year by 2050 if
allowed to continue unchecked .
"AMR is when microorganisms including bacteria, fungi, viruses
and parasites no longer respond to treatment by antimicrobial
medicines, such as antibiotics, antifungals, antivirals and
antimalarials," College president, Dr Caroline McElnay said.
"This means standard treatments for a variety of relatively
common infections are becoming ineffective. The medicines no
longer work, infections persist and people remain sick, increasing
the risk of dying and spread to others.
"AMR has been described as a leading global health issue that
"threatens the very core of modern medicine."1
Dr McElnay says it is critical that New Zealand develops a
strategy to ensure the effective stewardship of these medicines.
"This is a global issue in which New Zealand absolutely has to play
its part. We need to get widespread commitment and leadership from
medical, veterinary and agricultural sectors in New Zealand,
"New Zealand has committed internationally to have this plan in
place by May 2017, and it is important that we meet this goal.
"Equally important is the commitment by the government to
actually implement the plan and make sure it is sufficiently
monitored and funded."
AMR is such a critical threat to international health that
global leaders are discussing appropriate counter measures at the
United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 21,
This is only the fourth time in the UN's history that a health
topic has been discussed at the General Assembly (HIV,
non-communicable diseases, and Ebola were the others).
The College calls for a national plan that should
- preventing infections;
- improving antimicrobial prescribing and stewardship, in both
community and healthcare settings;
- public education;
- national, DHB-level monitoring and surveillance
- suitable regulation of agricultural and veterinary use (and
improving stewardship) of antimicrobials;
- a national strategy that links with international efforts;
- new research to identify the most effective methods to revive
and sustain the effectiveness of existing antimicrobial
For more information, contact Dr McElnay 027 24 12652
The NZ College of Public Health Medicine released in August its
statement on antimicrobial resistance/stewardship and infection
control, 'Limiting the burden of antimicrobial resistance'.
The College statement is available at