New Zealanders are being urged to seek advice from a qualified health professional before taking antibiotics.
This week is World Antibiotic Awareness Week, a global event organised by the World Health Organisation.
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The Ministry of Health says antibiotics are a valuable and powerful tool in keeping people well, but inappropriate use is causing a growth in antimicrobial resistance.
Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay says New Zealand is committed to tackling what is a global challenge.
"We are all in this fight together," she said.
"The awareness week is about bringing the message to all New Zealanders so they can understand that, when they see a health professional, they may increasingly hear a message that antibiotics just aren't the answer for their particular health issue."
Dr John Bonning, from the Council of Medical Colleges, said a growing number of infections were becoming harder to treat as the antibiotics used for them became less effective.
They included pneumonia, tuberculosis and gonorrhoea.
As part of its Choosing Wisely campaign, the council had worked with other parties to develop specific recommendations.
They included situations where antibiotics should not routinely be used - such as for upper respiratory tract infections, as topical treatment for surgical wounds and for fever in children without a bacterial infection.