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National Plan to Combat Antibiotic Resistance Demonstrates Commitment, Will Require Support

The National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria, 2020-2025, released today by the Department of Health and Human Services builds on the first iteration of the plan with a One Health approach in critical areas. Addressing antibiotic stewardship, infection prevention, surveillance, and research, the plan includes an acknowledgement that its activities hinge upon availability of resources.  

The Infectious Diseases Society of America calls upon Congress to ensure that this plan, critical to our public health and national security is fully supported by the funding that it requires. 

In addition, IDSA calls for stronger proposals in the areas in which the plan falls short. While the objectives and activities described in the plan all represent important steps, they are unlikely on their own to meet current and future patient needs for new antibiotic development. A new financing mechanism that provides a meaningful, predictable return on investment for the most critically needed antibiotics and that is delinked from the sales and use of those antibiotics is essential.

Similarly, the plan’s focus on infection prevention and antibiotic stewardship to reduce inappropriate antibiotic use is important, as are the investments in public health infrastructure necessary to meet these goals that it calls for. Funding for health care facilities to establish and strengthen their antibiotic stewardship programs would add critical support toward attaining these goals. Access to appropriate diagnostic tools is critical to guide antibiotic use, and the plan’s objectives to expand diagnostic development and use are welcome. Better reimbursement for diagnostic tests and federal funding for outcomes studies to inform the use of diagnostics would  contribute to increased clinical uptake of tests.

International collaboration is central to success in combating infectious diseases, including those caused by resistant pathogens, and the plan correctly prioritizes surveillance, domestically and globally, and emphasizes the importance of strengthening global capacity to prevent, detect and contain antibiotic resistance threats.

Finally, the support for at least 60 new or early-career investigators by 2021 to strengthen the research capacity on antibiotic resistance delineated in the plan reflects a crucial understanding that a highly skilled workforce is necessary to effectively combat antibiotic resistance. Efforts are also needed to support the workforce addressing other aspects of this public health crisis, however, including the infectious diseases physician workforce necessary to lead antibiotic stewardship and infection prevention programs is health care facilities. The continued undervaluation of infectious diseases physician services continues to hinder recruitment into the specialty and threaten the future of the workforce, a challenge which must be addressed as part of our efforts to stem antibiotic resistance.

The National Action Plan demonstrates an important, sustained federal commitment to addressing the crisis of antibiotic resistance, which threatens modern medical advances and complicates our responses to public health emergencies, including the COVID-19 pandemic. IDSA looks forward to working with Congress and the administration to meet and exceed the goals and objectives set forth in the plan.

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