On Friday, the Obama Administration announced a $1.2 billion plan to fight antibiotic resistant bacteria. The plan describes specific goals to be achieved by 2020, including halting the spread of resistant bacteria, improving surveillance, accelerating the development of new drugs and tests, and expanding its efforts internationally on global health threats.
Politico reports that while the plan has its strengths—this is the first major effort by an administration to tackle a problem lamented by health officials for decades—others were less enthusiastic. Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), a microbiologist, criticized the lack of emphasis on antibiotic use of food in farming, which according to Slaughter accounts for 75% of antibiotic use in the United States.
Our Take: A 2014 World Health Organization report that went largely unnoticed by the press called antimicrobial resistance “a global health security threat that requires action across government sectors and society as a whole.” WHO said very high rates of resistance have been detected for common pathogens, including Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumonia and Staphylococcus aureus, which are commonly found in community-acquired infections.
“The problem is so serious that it threatens the achievements of modern medicine,” according to the report.“ A post-antibiotic era—in which common infections and minor injuries can kill—is a very real possibility for the 21st century.”
The plan may not be perfect, but by doubling resources and speaking out from the bully pulpit, it’s a step forward to addressing a serious public health issue.