New Zealand's five-year plan to stop the spread of superbugs, resistant to all treatments, has called for greater research into how the bugs develop and a more judicious use of medicines.
Known as antimicrobial resistance, superbugs develop when microorganisms that cause infections in humans, animals and plants become resistant to antibiotic, antiviral, anti-parasitic and antifungal medications.
- Overprescribing antibiotics fuelling drug-resistant bacteria
- Drugs needed to urgently fight superbugs
Their increased spread increases the risk people will needlessly die from infections and diseases that are currently treatable.
The plan was launched by Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman and Food Safety Minister David Bennett on Sunday after it was presented at 70th World Health Assembly in Geneva.
"Scientists, governments and international agencies are united in the approach to combat the rise of antimicrobial resistance," Dr Coleman said.
"We want medicines to remain effective for treating infections in humans, as well as managing diseases in animals and plants."
The plan's key objectives include raising public awareness and increasing research into superbugs as well as improving how infections are prevented from spreading in hospitals and other public places.
It also aims to use existing medicines wisely, particularly when treating animals or agricultural products.
"The Ministry of Health and Ministry for Primary Industries have worked together on this action plan because resistant microbes arising in humans, animals or the environment impact each other," Mr Bennett said.
"As a major food producer, New Zealand must manage antimicrobial resistance in animals and plants effectively."