Colds and flu

02 June 2015

White House seeks to fight antibiotic overuse

The US government will be discussing ways to control the use of antibiotics, whose overuse is creating drug-resistant "superbugs" that pose a serious risk to public health.


The US government is set to hold a forum to help find ways to ensure the responsible use of antibiotics, whose overuse is creating drug-resistant "superbugs" that pose a serious risk to public health.

The White House Forum on Antibiotic Stewardship will bring together some 150 representatives from food companies, retailers, drugmakers, farmers, medical societies and others involved in human and animal health to discuss limiting the overuse of antibiotics in livestock, animal feed and humans.

Read: Antibiotics vs self medication: which is best to treat a flu?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that drug-resistant bacteria, which stop responding to the medicines designed to kill them, cause 2 million illnesses and about 23000 deaths each year in the United States alone.

CDC Director Thomas Frieden said antibiotic resistance might be the single most important infectious disease threat today.

'The medicine chest will be empty'

"If we lose antibiotics, the medicine chest will be empty and it will not only undermine our ability to treat routine infections, but it will undermine much of modern medicine," Frieden said on a conference call with reporters to announce the White House Forum.

"We risk turning back the clock to a world where simple infections can be fatal just as they were a century ago."

Among the topics under discussion will be developing guidelines and recommendations to control the overuse of antibiotics in hospitals and curtail their use in food animals.

Ahead of the meeting, President Barack Obama signed a memorandum directing federal departments and agencies to promote meat and poultry produced according to responsible antibiotic-use.

The memorandum broadens the availability of such products in all federal cafeterias serving civilian government employees by 2018 for poultry and 2020 for other meats "to the extent such an option is available and cost-effective."

Also read:

Warning over global threat of antibiotic resistance

Antibiotics in infancy linked to eczema

New antibiotic may overcome superbugs


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Dr Heidi van Deventer completed her MBChB (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) degree in 2004 at the University of Stellenbosch.
She has additional training in ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) and PALS (Paediatric Advanced Life Support) as well as biostatistics and epidemiology.

Dr Van Deventer is currently working as a researcher at the Desmond Tutu Tuberculosis Centre at the University of Stellenbosch.

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