Together we can keep antibiotics working: for consumers

Guidance for everyone

Together we can keep antibiotics working

You can help reduce antibiotic resistance to keep antibiotics working.

Why you need to take action

  • Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and the environment today.
  • Antibiotic resistance is happening now in New Zealand and around the world. It can affect anyone, of any age, in any country.
  • Antibiotic resistance stops antibiotics from working effectively against bacteria. It means some infections become more difficult, and sometimes impossible to treat.
  • Antibiotics are overused in humans in New Zealand. Using antibiotics when they are not needed drives bacteria to become more resistant.
  • Antibiotics only work against bacteria. They do not work for viral infections like a cold or the flu.
  • Bacteria that cause infections like pneumonia, gonorrhoea and tuberculosis have all started developing antibiotic resistance.
  • Preventing infections and their spread helps stop antibiotic resistance by reducing the need for antibiotics.
  • Antibiotic resistance can also affect your pets.

What you can do

  • Regularly wash your hands and keep up to date with vaccinations.
  • Remember the 3Cs when cooking at home. Clean, Cook, Chill to prevent you and your family from getting food poisoning.
  • Trust your health professional if they advise that you don’t need antibiotics. Ask them about other ways to relieve your symptoms.
  • Only take antibiotics if they are prescribed for you, don’t use or share leftover antibiotics.
  • If antibiotics are prescribed for you, follow your health professional’s advice on when and how to take them.
  • Take any unused antibiotics back to your pharmacy so they are disposed of safely and don’t enter the environment.


Social media images
Images that can be used to promote antimicrobial awareness on social media.

Posters that can be used to promote antimicrobial awareness in healthcare settings.

These videos can be shared to promote antimicrobial awareness. If you would like access to the video file (eg, for use in waiting rooms), email us.

Keep antibiotics working campaign (PHARMAC)
Keep antibiotics working is a PHARMAC campaign aimed at informing New Zealanders that taking antibiotics won’t fix a cold or flu. There are a range of resources for consumers and health professionals.

Keep antibiotics working campaign (Antimicrobial Stewardship Pharmacists)
DHB public hospitals have united on an initiative encouraging prescribers to document the reason for antimicrobial medicine use in prescriptions.  

Choosing Wisely Aotearoa New Zealand: patient and consumer information
Choosing Wisely New Zealand supports reducing unnecessary tests, treatments and procedures in health care. It has produced a range of consumer factsheets with advice that includes the appropriate use of antibiotics. Check out their fact sheet on managing coughs, colds and sore throats without antibiotics (PDF, 908 KB).

Hand hygiene resources
The Health Quality and Safety Commission New Zealand has produced a range of resources supporting preventing the spread of infections through good hand hygiene. Hand washing guidance and resources are also available on the hand washing page of this website.

Antibiotic amnesty information (login required)
The Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand are sharing resources for pharmacists wishing to run an ‘Antibiotic Amnesty’ in their pharmacy from 18 – 24 November 2020. This is to help raise public awareness of antimicrobial resistance and wise use of antibiotics.

Canterbury District Health Board Antibiotic Awareness resources
Canterbury DHB has produced these antibiotic awareness resources as part of a local Choosing Wisely campaign. Contact Mick O’Donnell at Canterbury DHB if you would like artwork files so you can amend and use locally.

Atlas of Healthcare Variation on Community Use of Antibiotics
The Health Quality and Safety Commission New Zealand produced this Atlas in 2019 to highlight regional and demographic variation in community antibiotic use, with the goal of prompting debate and raising questions about why differences exist. They also produced a consumer summary (PDF, 108 KB).

Royal Society Te Apārangi-produced resources
Royal Society Te Apārangi has produced these antimicrobial resistance awareness resources. Contact Nancy de Bueger at Royal Society Te Apārangi for any questions about reusing these resources.

World Health Organization (WHO) resources
In recent years, WHO has produced a number of resources (posters, infographics, social media images, videos, animated GIFs, etc) to help promote World Antibiotic Awareness Week.

Ministry for Primary Industries
Antimicrobial resistance is also an issue for industries such as food production.

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