Australia’s antimicrobial use and resistance data landscape has been documented for the first time.

June 30th, 2022

Nurse entering data

The many ways Australia’s human antimicrobial use (AMU) and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) data is collected and analysed have been collated for the first time and published in a report released today by Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO. 

The report, The Australian Human Health Antimicrobial Data Landscape, reviews the velocity, ubiquity, complexity, and inclusivity of human health data collected by 13 programs that support antimicrobial surveillance in Australia and contribute to mitigating the impact of AMR. 

Antimicrobial resistance occurs when bacteria and other microbes become resistant to the drugs designed to kill them, generally through misuse or overuse. 

AMR undermines modern medicine and makes us vulnerable to drug-resistant infections. Globally, it is responsible for over 1.27 million deaths each year and rising. 

David O’Driscoll, the principal consultant on the report, said that establishing an understanding of the antimicrobial data landscape in Australia is an important step in supporting the people and systems that study AMR. 

“Understanding how the data is collected, how it flows through the health system, and the efforts required to analyse, publish, and use this data can all be used to improve patient outcomes,” Mr O’Driscoll said. 

The collected data is sourced from participating public and private hospitals, general practices, pharmacies, aged care providers, and pathology laboratories but varies in format, type, and collection frequency. 

CSIRO Clinical Terminology Specialist Kylynn Loi, explained that if the data collection process could be streamlined and standardised, we could gain even greater insights. 

“The report shows us the variability in the ways data is collected which means we can begin to find ways of standardising it and to then leverage the data more effectively as it would allow reuse. 

“In the future, if we harmonise the approach to collecting this information to improve the quality, quantity and timeliness of the information collected, outbreaks of antimicrobial resistance could be identified more effectively,” Ms Loi said. 

Dr David Hansen, the CEO and Research Director of the Australian e-Health Research Centre, said the report would help identify ways to reduce duplication and identify opportunities for better data sharing by providing a holistic view of the data landscape. 

“The report will be useful to those involved in collecting and analysing AMR surveillance data, and those involved in developing policy and programs, providing effective planning for growth in surveillance systems,” Dr Hansen said. 

The report is intended to support the activities of many groups involved in antimicrobial resistance, including researchers, clinicians, data analysts, and government departments working towards delivering Australia’s National AMR strategy. 

CSIRO is conducting further research antimicrobial resistance and its health and economic burden through a One Health lens, forming part of the Antimicrobial Resistance Mission. 

Read the report: