The White House is planning a Friday news dump for an ambitious plan to curtail the rise of the superbug – antibiotic resistant diseases. The issue deserves more than a Friday release, but the 60-page report contains provisions that will require investment.

Said another way, Congress will be expected to spend money. That’s a great way for half of Washington to disappear. If the Obama administration wants money to be spent, they should wrap every report in military language. Trillions to fight a war? No problem. A few billion to prevent a pandemic? Umm, you’re going to have to let us defund Homeland Security first.

This report represents the first major governmental action to tackle antibiotic resistance in a comprehensive way. It was developed by a task force led by the top officials from health, agriculture and defense.

Doctors have been doing everything to get the government’s attention on this issue for decades. Not only are antibiotic resistant diseases leading to tens of thousands of deaths annually, the superbugs threaten to blunt medical advancement.

c difficile bacteria

Combatting Superbugs

The chief goal is to dramatically reduce the number of infections in a five-year period. New investments in diagnostics and antibiotics will be required. Also, personal responsibility. I know. We are all closet hypochondriacs. Every sniffle requires a couple rounds of antibiotics. That has to stop. You have a cold. Kick back and binge watch Netflix. You’ll be fine.

Other measures include monitoring antibiotic use in agriculture, and surveillance of prescribing practices at hospitals. They already spy on us anyways. I don’t particularly care if they know I have rampant sinus infections. This will be in conjunction with the World Health Organization.

Agriculture and Antibiotic Resistance

One area that can be quickly fixed is the widespread use of antibiotics on livestock. Experts have warned for years the problem is out of control. In January, the Obama administration proposed doubling the antibiotic resistance program’s budget to $1.2 billion.
“We’ve never seen something this sweeping and comprehensive,” Amanda Jezek, vice president for public policy and government relations at the Infectious Diseases Society of America, said in an interview with Reuters.

CDC to Lead

Under the plan, the CDC will take lead in combating the diseases. First, the organization will tackle the most deadly resistant diseases. The report wants c. difficile infections cut by 50 percent. CRE by 60 percent and MRSA by 50 percent.

Ambitious? Sure, but it’s time to take the problem seriously at the federal level.

Disease Prevention

Hospitals will be required to step up infection controls. This involves more hand washing, sterilizing hospital surfaces and reducing the use of antibiotics in patients. Well, steps one and two make me feel great. Shouldn’t those procedures already exist?

Screening international travels for tuberculosis will be doubled under the new plan. Currently, the CDC screens 500,000 arrivals per year.

mrsa bacteria

Antibiotic Overuse

In the end, the plan relies on halting the over prescribing to patients and overuse on farms. The Obama administration wants a new diagnostic tool to help doctors differentiate between viral and bacterial infections. Two new antibiotics are also promised to hit shelves soon.

Doctors and patients will be on the frontline in this battle. Stopping antibiotic resistance requires patients and doctors to be steadfast. Everyone understands when you’re feeling like crap, you want a prescription. But, it’s not necessary all the time.

Like I said above, sometimes a dose of rest and Netflix works better than an apple a day.

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