Wollongong summit aims to address antibiotic resistance

Global challenge: UOW Professor Antoine van Oijen is part of a team which is looking at ways to address antibiotic resistance. Picture: Paul Jones
Global challenge: UOW Professor Antoine van Oijen is part of a team which is looking at ways to address antibiotic resistance. Picture: Paul Jones

Some of the country’s leading medical minds will put their heads together in Wollongong next week to work out ways to outsmart the superbugs.

The antimicrobial resistance summit, to be held at the University of Wollongong on June 26-27, will bring together top scientists, health practitioners, policy makers, engineers and educators.

UOW Professor Antoine van Oijen said the forum aimed to find ways to tackle one of the biggest global threats to public health.

‘’Whenever we have a bacterial infection like strep throat, or have a surgical procedure where we want to prevent infection, we take antibiotics,’’ he said.

‘’The problem is that, as a society, we have been using so many antibiotics over decades that the bacteria have become resistant to them.

‘’They’ve evolved ways to deal with antibiotics and superbugs have been created that are completely resistant to the antibiotics we use.’’

Prof van Oijen said while the over-prescription of antibiotics by GPs was a contributing factor, so too was the overuse of antibiotics to control infection in livestock.

‘’All these aspects contribute to bacteria becoming resistant, so this summit will bring together experts from across the country to see how we can holistically come up with a set of solutions,’’ he said. ‘’Whether that’s developing new and better antibiotics, changing prescriptive behaviour, raising public awareness, or developing agricultural policies, or a range of other methods.’’

A public lecture will be held on the topic on Monday evening. Details at globalchallenges.uow.edu.au/living/UOW233623