Infectious disease and antimicrobial resistance

In 2018, our Office published a short summary detailing why drug-resistant infections – that can’t be treated with common medicines – pose an imminent threat to Aotearoa New Zealand. Since then, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown how an infectious disease with no effective treatment available can significantly impact our lives.

Our major project for 2021 is on infectious disease, with a particular focus on drug-resistant infections (also known as antimicrobial resistance, AMR). It will provide an evidence synthesis, contextualised for Aotearoa New Zealand, with recommendations to mitigate the risk of infectious disease and AMR. Check back soon for more content!

Read the Terms of Reference (PDF, 235KB)

Read the project scope (PDF, 331KB)

Scanning electron micrograph of Streptococcus A (yellow balls) attached to a human neutrophil (spiky blue surface)

Group A Streptococcus bacteria on human neutrophil. Image credit: NIAID/Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

Our panel

Our panel is a diverse group with varied areas of expertise, convened by Juliet. The panel will provide guidance to the OPMCSA in preparing an evidence summary and developing recommendations.

Ngāpuhi / University of Auckland / Papakura Marae Health Clinic

Matire (MBChB, PhD) is a hauora Māori academic and GP dividing her time across the Department of General Practice and Primary Care at Auckland Medical School and Papakura Marae Health Clinic in South Auckland. In 2017 she was awarded the L’Oréal UNESCO New Zealand ‘For Women In Science Fellowship’ for research in Indigenous health and in 2019 she received the Health Research Council’s Te Tohu Rapuora award for leadership in research to improve Māori health.

Kāi Tahu, Kāti Māmoe / University of Auckland

Anneka is a medical anthropologist with Te Kupenga Hauora Māori, University of Auckland. She is the director of Hikitia Te Ora – Certificate in Health Sciences (bridging/foundation education for Māori and Pacific), co-director of teaching, and the postgraduate advisor for Te Kupenga Hauora Māori. Anneka is a qualitative kaupapa Māori researcher who focuses her work around Māori experiences of health. Anneka has engaged in research with rheumatic fever, rheumatic heart disease, tuberculosis, antenatal care, health service utilisation and kaumātua health.

University of Otago

David is Dean and Head of Campus at the University of Otago, Christchurch, and has a background in clinical microbiology, infectious diseases, epidemiology, vaccinology and global health. He has adjunct faculty positions at both Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Massey University, and has been an advisor to the World Health Organization, the US National Institutes of Health, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on topics related to infectious diseases in both adults and children. David has also had several roles as part of the New Zealand Government’s COVID-19 pandemic response.

University of Canterbury

Jack has a PhD in molecular biology and has been researching antibiotic resistance for 30 years. Prior to joining the University of Canterbury in 1994, he was a Staff Fellow at the US National Institutes of Health NAID (National Institute of Allergic and Infectious Diseases). He was on the team that wrote the 2017 Royal Society report ‘Antimicrobial Resistance Implications for New Zealanders’. Recently he and his research group linked exposure to ubiquitous environmental and household products with selection of antibiotic resistant bacteria. This work continues with a ‘one health’ perspective by conducting environmental surveys to identify reservoirs and causes of antibiotic resistance in Aotearoa New Zealand.

University of Auckland / Auckland District Health Board

Mark is an academic infectious disease physician. Because the most important determinant of the increase in antimicrobial resistance is almost always the use of antimicrobial medicines, Mark has focused his research on studying the current use of antimicrobial medicines in Aotearoa New Zealand, to try to identify opportunities to reduce unnecessary use. With Dr Stephen Ritchie, he has also studied the effectiveness of interventions designed to reduce unnecessary antimicrobial use in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Canterbury District Health Board

Sharon Gardiner is the antimicrobial stewardship pharmacist for Canterbury DHB and co-lead for the New Zealand antimicrobial stewardship/infection pharmacist expert group. Sharon has been involved in a number of advisory and steering groups related to antimicrobial use and stewardship and collaborates widely within and outside her DHB in this area. Her research interests include antimicrobial stewardship in the Aotearoa New Zealand healthcare system, and strategies to optimise antimicrobial dosing regimens.

University of Otago

Dianne is the Scientific Lead for the Rheumatic Fever and Penicillin Research Programme based in Aotearoa New Zealand and the Associate Dean (Pacific) at the University of Otago, Wellington. She is also a member of the Royal Society Te Apārangi Council, National Science Challenge Healthier Lives Science Leadership Team and Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC) Pacific Health Research Committee.

Dianne has received numerous awards for her PhD and other research work. Her research interests include immunology, rheumatic fever, immunogenetics, cancer and pharmacology. Dianne is of Tongan descent and also has strong research interests in areas of health research relevant to Pacific populations living in New Zealand and in the region.

ESR

Kristin is a microbiologist in the Health Science group based at the Kenepuru Science Centre in Wellington. She is a senior scientist who has been working at ESR’s Antibiotic Reference and Nosocomial Infections Laboratories since 2011. The main functions of these laboratories are the surveillance of antibiotic resistance among medically important bacteria in Aotearoa New Zealand and the typing of hospital-acquired pathogens. In recent years her laboratory has established methods to identify new and emerging mechanisms of antimicrobial resistance, including the use of next generation sequencing technologies, with the support of ESR’s sequencing facility.

Massey University

Nigel is Distinguished Professor of Food Safety and Veterinary Public Health, Chief Scientist for the NZ Food Safety Science and Research Centre and Co-Director of One Health Aotearoa. He is an infectious disease epidemiologist who specialises in the application of genomics to understand the evolution and transmission of pathogens of significance to both human and animal health, including antimicrobial resistant pathogens. Nigel is a member of the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Technical Advisory Group, the Mycoplasma bovis Technical Advisory Group with MPI, and the AMR Coordination Group (MoH and MPI).

University of Auckland

Siouxsie describes herself as a microbiologist and bioluminescence enthusiast but to many she is “that pink-haired science lady”. Siouxsie heads up the Bioluminescent Superbugs Lab, where she combines her twin passions to understand infectious diseases and to find new antibiotics. 

Siouxsie also has a keen interest in demystifying science; she is a tweeter, blogger, podcaster, and media science commentator, and has worked with artists to make living works of art for various exhibitions in Aotearoa and overseas. In 2017 she published her first book, ‘Antibiotic resistance: the end of modern medicine?’, and recently collaborated with her daughter to make a kid’s show about microbiology.

Panel meeting minutes

19 April 2021

Agenda (PDF, 155KB)

Minutes (PDF, 217KB)

Our reference group

We will draw on the wider reference group for information and feedback as we navigate this project. There are currently more than 125 people on our reference group and we look forward to working with you all.

If you’d like to be on the reference group, please get in touch.

Previous work

Read the 2018 briefing ‘Antimicrobial resistance: An imminent threat to Aotearoa New Zealand’

See an AMR resource sheet collated in 2018 (PDF, 150KB)

Resources for science education

The Science Learning Hub has written an article which covers an introduction to the history of antibiotics, reasons behind resistance, common-sense approaches we can take, and research looking at novel solutions. It also curates Hub resources on the topic, houses three Royal Society Te Apārangi videos and features student work on antibiotic resistance posters.

In the news

Last updated: 28 April 2021