Antibiotics are widely used for the treatment of bacterial infections. However, when an antibiotic drug no longer has an effect on a certain strain of bacteria, those bacteria are said to be antibiotic resistant. Misuse or overuse of antibiotics results in new resistance mechanisms. Antibiotic resistance threatens the effective prevention and treatment of an ever-increasing range of infections. It is present in all parts of the world and poses a serious threat to global public health that requires action from all government sectors and society. Barack Obama, the US President, on Friday rolled out plans to cut inappropriate antibiotic use by half, in an effort to tackle drug resistance.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug-resistant bacteria, also known as 'superbugs', kill 23,000 people a annually in the United States. To reduce the toll, the new plan aims to cut inappropriate antibiotic use by 50% for outpatients, and 20% for inpatients. Measures include developing diagnostic tests to determine whether the infection is bacterial or viral. The plan would also encourage researchers to develop new antibiotics.
President Obama said, "Antibiotic resistance is one of the most pressing public health issues facing the world today. Over-prescribing is a serious problem. We need to give doctors the information and guidance they need to make the right call in hard situations."
But critics said that measures fail to tackle one major source of antibiotic over use- farming. The Natural Resources Defense Council said, "The Obama Administration needs to do more to reduce antibiotic use in animals that are not sick. Our government should be taking steps to reduce antibiotics to protect our health, rather than protecting poor industry practices."
This new plan to cut inappropriate antibiotic use may also hit funding problems, and Obama needs Republicans in Congress to back a budget that pays for the measures.