Tracking drug resistant infections in northern Australia: Mapping and data to inform policy and practice

Tracking and treating superbugs in northern Australia

Infections that no longer respond to treatment are increasingly common across the world and within Australia. Patients infected with antimicrobial-resistant (AMR) infections have significantly worse health outcomes and pose an additional economic burden on the healthcare system, compared with susceptible infections. However, much of our current understanding of the health and economic impact of AMR infections comes from patients in hospitals. The burden and cost in primary care is poorly understood.

A holistic approach is necessary to fully understand and appreciate the magnitude of the impact of AMR in northern Australia. The aim of my fellowship is to take the next step in launching an online tool for clinicians and public health experts. This will use real-time data to show evolving trends in resistance, to inform revisions of treatment guidelines. I will work with policy makers and practitioners to set up an AMR response capacity for this region.

During my 2018 HOT NORTH Career Development fellowship, I conducted detailed analyses of both public and private pathology data to better understand trends in clinically-important resistant infections across northern Australia. In late 2018 and into the duration of this current fellowship application, these data will directly inform the development of an online AMR atlas (surveillance system). It will be the first attempt to provide key end users, including primary healthcare providers, with timely and locally-relevant data on resistant infections. The online AMR atlas will cover both community and hospital sites and will be an important contribution to local infection control and prevention efforts. Furthermore, working alongside current collaborators at the Australian Commission of Safety and Quality in Health Care will ensure that outputs of this fellowship align with the national AMR activities.

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