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White House drafts ambitious plan to fight superbugs

The White House is all set to release a plan to curb the growing and deadly problem of antibiotic resistance over the next five years.

The first-ever plan requires some major investments and policy changes from several US government health agencies. The report published in some newspapers showed that the plan is to tackle antibiotic resistance at a broader level.

A government task force led by the administration's top officials for health, agriculture and defence, has prepared the report.

Several studies have shown that rising rates of resistant bacteria have caused tens of thousands of deaths, threatening to nullify modern medical advancements.

The new plan includes the goals to drastically reduce the rates of the most deadly "superbug" infections within five years, investing in new diagnostic tools and antibiotic drugs, improving antibiotic use, surveillance and prescribing practices in livestock and hospitals.

Experts said that a broad-based approach is necessary because indiscriminate use of antibiotics from hospitals to US farms has created a problem which has now become uncontrollable.

"We've never seen something this sweeping and comprehensive," Amanda Jezek, vice president for public policy and government relations at the Infectious Diseases Society of America, said in an interview with Reuters. IDSA has testified before Congress for years to pass laws and increase funding for antibiotic resistance, she added.

According to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates, 2 million people are infected with resistant bacteria each year and 23,000 die, which experts say is a conserative estimate.

The CDC is aiming to reduce rates of the most deadly and widespread infections. That includes cutting Clostridium difficile infections by 50 percent, reducing carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) infections by 60 percent and lowering Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bloodstream infections by at least 50 percent.