Obama creates taskforce to fight superbugs

September 22, 2014

President Obama recently signed an executive order establishing a taskforce charged with creating a strategy to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

President Obama recently signed an executive order establishing a taskforce charged with creating a strategy to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The secretaries of Health & Human Services (HHS), the Department of Defense, and the Department of Agriculture will co-chair the taskforce, which has been instructed to submit a national action plan by February 15, 2015.

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"We are clearly in a fight against bacteria where no permanent treatment is possible," said Dr. John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

The president’s order also established a presidential advisory council of nongovernmental experts who will provide recommendations to strengthen surveillance of infections, research new treatments, and develop alternatives to antibiotics for use in agriculture.

 

Antibiotic stewardship

The executive order calls for improved antibiotic stewardship with HHS leadership. By the end of 2016, HHS must review current regulations and propose new ones that require hospitals to implement antibiotic stewardship programs that follow best practices as determined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Ambulatory surgery centers and dialysis facilities will also be encouraged to create these types of programs.

The Obama administration also released its “

” which is a five-year plan to prevent and contain bacteria outbreaks.

As part of its effort to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria, the government will offer a  $20 million prize to encourage the development of diagnostic tests that medical professionals can use to identify highly resistant bacterial infections.

According to CDC, antibiotic-resistant infections are linked to 23,000 deaths and 2 million illnesses annually.