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The White House released a comprehensive plan that identifies critical actions to be taken by key federal departments and agencies to combat the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria outlines steps for implementing the National Strategy on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria and addressing the policy recommendations of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) report on Combating Antibiotic Resistance.
The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) applauds the Administration for this interagency plan which appropriately focuses on the demand and supply sides of the antibiotic resistance problem and addresses overuse in the human and agricultural sections. The National Action Plan outlines Federal activities over the next five years to enhance domestic and international capacity to prevent and contain outbreaks of antibiotic-resistant infections; maintain the efficacy of current and new antibiotics; and develop and deploy next-generation diagnostics, antibiotics, vaccines, and other therapeutics.
APIC’s 15,000 infection preventionist members have unique expertise in identifying sources of infections and limiting their transmission in healthcare settings and in the community. They are the linchpins between public health and individual healthcare facilities, working every day to:
•Identify and report trends and outbreaks from antibiotic-resistant infections
•Support efforts to improve antibiotic prescribing and stewardship, and
•Implement interventions to guide the delivery of evidence-based practices to prevent infections
Unfortunately, many healthcare facilities do not have enough staff dedicated to infection prevention and control. A recent APIC survey found that 1 in 2 hospitals had only one or less than one full-time equivalent infection preventionist on staff.
APIC believes that our nation must do more to protect the 2 million people who develop infections from antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year and the 23,000 who will die as a result. More than half of all hospitalized patients will get an antibiotic at some point during their hospital stay, but studies have shown that 30 to 50 percent of antibiotics prescribed in hospitals are unnecessary or incorrect, contributing to the problem of antibiotic resistance. As a result, APIC calls on Congress to fund the important programs that will give this National Action Plan a chance to succeed.
Antibiotic resistance is an urgent health concern that demands the full attention of healthcare professionals, policy makers, and the public. If there is any issue in which we should call on bipartisan support from Congress, it is focusing our nation’s attention on the vital resource that antibiotics are to our nation and to the world. The actions we take now will determine if we will return to a post-antibiotic era where even a small cut could prove fatal.