Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A National Strategy to Combat Antibiotic Resistance

In a 37-page document released this month, the Obama administration proposed a national strategy for combating the growing problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.   It's about time.   From an evolutionary point of view, the misuse and overuse of antibiotics in health care and food production will inevitably lead to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria, because bacteria can adapt and evolve so quickly.   We've been talking about this problem for a while now on this blog.

An interagency task force led by the secretaries of health and human services, agriculture, and defense has been tasked with developing a specific action plan within six months.  The task force will then coordinate with government agencies to see that the required actions are taken.  Finally, the task force will report regularly to the President on progress made toward specific goals outlined in the document.

The goals, objectives, and achievement targets listed in the document are clear, appropriate, and likely to be effective if they could actually be accomplished.   It will be interesting to see, say five years from now, if any real progress has been made, or whether this is just a good plan without adequate follow-through.  For example, one of the stated objectives; to "eliminate the use of medically important antibiotics for growth promotion in animals..." is likely to meet with stiff resistance from farmers.

I, for one, applaud the effort and hope for real progress.

For more on this subject, go to a previous blog post titled "First Official Report on Deaths from Antibiotic-resistant Bacteria."

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