Antibiotic shortages put Aboriginal kids at risk 

The most effective antibiotic to treat school sores is in short supply, and this is putting Aboriginal kids at risk of life-threatening infections.

The withdrawal of the antibiotic Bactrim syrup from the market and the exhausted supply of the alternative Septrin has affected a large number of Aboriginal children with school sores, reports The Conversation.

School sores (or Impetigo) are common in Aboriginal children living in remote areas due to the association with scabies, tinea and head lice, which are also very common.

School sores are caused by the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus and Group A Streptococcus. These bacteria are highly contagious and spread easily from child to child.

At any time, almost one in two Aboriginal children living in remote areas will have a school sore. That means there are an estimated 15,000 children who need treatment.

Asha Bowen, head of skin health at the Telethon Kids Institute, says that drug shortages are a huge problem in health care.

“Old, cheap antibiotics are no longer on patent and not generally profitable for the manufacturers. These antibiotics are usually prescribed for short courses of three to five days, and so are rarely prioritised in comparison to the long-term medications,” she says.

“In a developed country with world-class health care, it’s unacceptable if an antibiotic needed to treat an infection is not available because we don’t have a national system for coordinating and maintaining antibiotic supply,” she said.