November 18, 2020 – Antibiotic resistance is a global public health concern and with the highest rate of antibiotic utilization in Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) must take steps to stop inappropriate use of antibiotics and other antimicrobials.

Antibiotic resistance happens when bacteria that cause illness become resistant to the antibiotic drugs used to treat them. World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW), November 18-24, 2020, aims to increase awareness of global antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and to encourage best practices among the general public, health workers and policy makers to avoid the further emergence and spread of drug-resistant infections. Antibiotics are a type of antimicrobial that fight bacterial infections.

With cold and flu season upon us and an ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, public health has perhaps never been more top of mind for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. While antibiotics cannot be used to treat a cold, cough, flu or COVID-19 – which are caused by viruses, not bacteria – it is still important to remember when it is appropriate to use antibiotics.

“Overuse of antibiotics may not be our biggest public health concern right now, but as we learn to live with COVID-19 and work to slow the spread of one infectious disease, we must take care not to let other aspects of our health fall by the wayside,” says Dr. Pat Parfrey, Clinical Lead of Quality of Care NL. “Antimicrobial resistance, and the inappropriate use of antibiotics specifically, is one such health concern.”

Since 2016, Quality of Care NL has been working in partnership with Choosing Wisely Canada to promote guidelines and recommendations on the appropriate use of antibiotics, including an annual public awareness campaign about the potential harms of overuse, and providing personal ordering data to physicians and nurse practitioners on their antibiotic prescribing patterns.

NL has seen modest reductions in the rate of antibiotic usage thanks to efforts by health care stakeholders and providers, including family physicians, nurse practitioners and dentists. However, the province is still leading the country in antibiotic usage. In 2018/19, NL gave 786 antibiotic prescriptions per 1,000 residents. High-use groups in NL include women, children under 10 years old, seniors and rural residents (Practice Points Volume 6).

In cooperation with partners in health care, Quality of Care NL will continue efforts to provide information on best practices and feedback to clinicians, as well as educate the public on the threat of antimicrobial resistance.

Quality of Care NL works to improve the quality of care patients receive in our province by facilitating change to ensure that the right treatment, gets to the right patient, at the right time. Quality of Care NL is proud to partner with Choosing Wisely Canada to enable the promotion of established national guidelines and recommendations that cross all disciplines to support the reduction of low-value health care, including unnecessary tests and treatments, particularly where harms outweigh benefits.


Media Contact
Melissa Ennis
Communications Advisor
Quality of Care NL