CO-ADD on the Road

Program Coordinator Dr Mark Blaskovich has been busy attending AMR meetings across Australia. Latest blog by Dr Blaskovich.

The last month has been busy for Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Meetings and presentations in Australia. First up was a road trip up north to Gladstone on June 21, where I presented a talk on antibiotic resistance and the discovery of new antibiotics to a Grand Rounds meeting of medical professionals at Gladstone Hospital.

CO-ADD's Mark Blaskovich presented at The Grand Rounds meeting
of medical professionals, Gladstone Hospital

I had to condense this hour long talk into a 5 minute ‘no slides’ summary for the next event, an antimicrobial resistance workshop at the University of Wollongong on June 26. Organised by ARC Laureate Fellow Professor Antoine van Oijen, a group of approximately 75 attendees first listened to 15 rapid talks on a diverse range of subjects including veterinary use of antibiotics, development of diagnostics, indigenous health, health economy, and behavorial psychology, in order to understand the AMR problem from different perspectives. The afternoon was focused on group discussions generating ‘logic models’ for possible projects and interventions that could form the focus of an AMR research initiative in the Shoalhaven region.  There was a strong consensus among the different groups that better tracking of antibiotic prescriptions (when and why given or requested, how many filled, how many completed etc) and reporting of AMR infections was a key initial step to establish a baseline to understand how to reduce overuse.  The day was capped off with an evening public lecture on antibiotic resistance by Professor John Iredell

Public Lecture with Professor John Iredell, University of Wollongong

After a quick trip back to Brisbane to make sure everyone was still working hard at screening for potential antibiotics, it was off to Melbourne on June 29 for the “Second ASID /ASA AMR Summit: Roadmap to Effective Action”. Organised by The Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases (ASID) and the Australian Society for Antimicrobials (ASA), this was a follow up to a joint AMR Summit in 2011, at which experts from government, medical, veterinary, agricultural, infection control and public health sectors discussed the drivers to AMR and established a plan to action. Featuring talks from Australia’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr Brendan Murphy, and the Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Mark Schipp, the day consisted of a mixture of talks and panel discussions focused on four strategic pillars: Improve Infection Prevention and Control, Practical Antimicrobial Stewardship, Improving Surveillance and Outbreak Response, and Research and Development.  Coincidentally, the topic of antibiotic prescription policies was also raised at this forum, with the CMO agreeing to see if the length of time a prescription was valid, and the automatic renewal of a script, could be modified for antibiotics. One talk highlighted a Time magazine 1951 article on the miracle of antibiotics, and featured Pfizer’s key role and its promotion of the use of antibiotics as a growth stimulant in animal feeds – not much more than 2 decades after penicillin was discovered! Interestingly, Australia ranks as one of the countries using the least amount of antibiotics in animals, but as one of the highest users per capita in humans.  Some promising news was delivered by Professor Anne Kelso, NHMRC CEO, who announced that the NHMRC would be administering a pool of $5.9m in funds from the new Medical Research Future Fund dedicated to breakthrough research in AMR, with calls for proposals in the second half of 2017. 

Antimicrobial Resistance Summit, hosted by The Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases (ASID)
and the Australian Society for Antimicrobials (ASA)

The Summit called for a national body and the recognition that antibiotic-resistant superbugs are a patient safety issue. The Guardian spoke with Australian Infectious Disease experts and summarised the summit here.

Finally, July 15 saw another visit to Sydney for the Pfizer Clinical ID forum, a day of lectures by international and local experts with a clinical focus on AMR issues. Of particular interest was a talk by Doctor Jennifer Coetzee (a senior clinical microbiologist with the National Reference Laboratory of Ampath, near Johannesburg) on ‘Early diagnosis and optimal management of invasive Candida infection in the ICU’, highlighting the development of highly resistant Candida strains in South Africa, and the need for new antifungal agents. 

CO-ADD's Dr Mark Blaskovich attending Pfizer's Clinical ID Forum 2017

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