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Funding to help tackle resistant bugs

Health Minister Greg Hunt used his address to the AMA’s National Conference to announce a $5.9 million investment from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) to help address the growing threat of superbugs.

With the number of microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses or parasites becoming increasingly resistant to standard medical treatments such an investment was warranted, the Minister said.

Resistance results in standard medical treatments such as antibiotics, antivirals or anti-malarials becoming ineffective, allowing infections to persist and possibly spread.

“Infections are becoming increasingly difficult to treat, leaving healthcare professionals with limited – or in some instances zero – treatment options,” Mr Hunt told conference delegates.

“Australia has one of the highest rates of antibiotic use in the world and rates of resistance to some common antibiotics are increasing globally.

“Commercial returns on the discovery and development of new antibiotics is relatively low, so it is an area of research that doesn’t attract sufficient private sector investment.

“The research will be consistent with the achievement of the objectives of the National Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy 2015-2019, which was developed by the Australian Government in partnership with states and territories, academics, research organisations and industry.”

The strategy will include a focus on knowledge gaps in relation to the development and spread of resistance; and the development of new products, including diagnostic technologies and therapies, policies and approaches to prevent, detect and respond to resistance.

“The Coalition’s $20 billion MRFF provides a long-term sustainable source of funding for research that aims to improve health outcomes, quality of life and health system sustainability,” the Minister said.

“This investment in critical antimicrobial resistance research is part of the $65.9 million in MRFF disbursements announced in the Budget.

“The Turnbull Government is committed to supporting Australia’s talented researchers to find solutions to challenges that make a difference to patients’ lives.”

Chris Johnson