Scanning electron micrograph of a human neutrophil ingesting multi-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)

A new report  billed as a ‘landmark’ in Australian research has warned that the current over-use of antibiotics could send the nation, and by extension the wider world, back to the days before modern medicine - the Dark Ages.

The Antimicrobial Use and Resistance in Australia (AURA) 2016 report was produced by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care. This Australian Government agency leads and coordinates national improvements in the safety and quality of health care based on the best available evidence.

Changes in the people’s transport highlights how age-old China has modernised in just a few decades, as GP Speak’s Angela Bettess found on a recent visit.

My husband Paul travelled to China in the 80s and still recalls how much change has occurred in this time. At that time an escorted tour was an prerequisite to travelling there and, disembarking from the plane in Beijing airport, his first glimpse of engineering was the construction of runways with the aid of trucks, wheelbarrows and rocks.

People were dressed in clothing reflecting the Mao Tse-Tung era and there was a strong military presence. Most vehicles were black military cars; bicycles were the main form of the ordinary people’s transport, apart from rundown public buses.

How massively different nowadays! On our visit we saw amazing freeways and fast bullet trains that travel at speeds of up to 400 kph. There were very few bicycles or rickshaws (for goods, not people) on the streets, these having been replaced by motorbikes, often with electric motors.

Newly elected AMA President, Dr Michael Gannon

The newly elected federal president of the AMA, obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Michael Gannon, from WA, takes up the reins at a time when, in his words, the Australian health system is at “a crossroads.”

This makes the AMA’s relationship with federal politics more important than it has ever been, he added: “The AMA needs strong leadership with an appetite to engage constructively with Government, whichever political party is in power.”

As usual, health issues are high on the agenda of the 2016 federal election campaign, with pathology bulk billing and the present government’s freeze on Medicare patient rebates attracting close attention.

Regarding the rebate freeze, the Royal Australian College of General Practice has launched a campaign of in-practice posters and TV ads themed “You’ve been targeted”.

RACGP says, “The extension of the freeze on Medicare payments until 2020 is a false economy which will impact the people who will pay the most - those who can afford it the least - ordinary Australians who have to see their GP.”

GP Speak sought comment from the leading candidates for the seat of Page, which covers much of the Northern Rivers. The Nationals hold the seat by a slender 3.1% margin.

 “O Deep Thought computer," he said, "the task we have designed you to perform is this. We want you to tell us...." he paused, "The Answer."
"The Answer?" said Deep Thought. "The Answer to what?"
"Life!" urged Fook. "The Universe!" said Lunkwill. "Everything!" they said in chorus.
Deep Thought paused for a moment's reflection.
"Tricky," he said finally.
- Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy

Tricky indeed.

Computers, or more particularly their interconnections, are changing our lives. Visits to the bank, or even an ATM, are increasingly rare. Handling cash is a nuisance so we go to the store that takes PayWave in preference. Online shopping through PayPal provides safe transactions and a wider range of goods than the biggest store.