New system to track resistant bugs
A new tracking mechanism to monitor which antibiotics are becoming ineffective is being rolled out at GP surgeries around the country.
The mechanism is being put in place at 600 GPs with the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP).
It is hoping to secure funding for a widespread roll-out to all surgeries across the country.
Dr Nuala O'Connor, ICGP lead advisor on antibiotic resistance, said such a system was vital to monitor the spread of antibiotic resistance. "We still don't have a good enough tracking mechanism in place in the country," she said.
"We started SARI under (former Health Minister and current Fianna Fáil leader) Micheál Martin, unfortunately not everything in it got put into place."
Dr O'Connor said the tracking of such infections must be restricted to specific criteria such as sex, age and type of infection in order not to "overwhelm" laboratories.
She hopes the new system will allow a central database of antibiotic resistance to be built up from around the country, this could then be accessed by all GPs and hospitals.
Currently Galway has the most accurate data, followed by Cork. GPs in both regions work closely with the hospital laboratories.
Dr O'Connor also stressed the necessity of GPs prescribing the simplest antibiotic available for each infection.
She warned about the "Domestos effect" - people using the most powerful product available even when it wasn't always necessary.
"We have found with some precious antibiotics they are now less effective because the Domestos effect has seen resistance rise rapidly," she added.
She urged people who were feeling sick to consult the HSE site www.undertheweather.ie before opting for antibiotics.
"We have had a great response to the site. It had 62,000 hits in its first few weeks.
"We are hoping it will become a template for other care programs," she added.