Health

Obama Seeks to Double Funding to Fight Antibiotic Resistance

President Barack Obama sitting next to Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett, and S. James Gates Jr., Director of the Center for String and Particle Theory at the University of Maryland, College Park, talks about antibiotic-resistant bacteria as he meets with members of the his Council of Advisers on Science and Technology, Friday, March 27, 2015, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
President Barack Obama sitting next to Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett, and S. James Gates Jr., Director of the Center for String and Particle Theory at the University of Maryland, College Park, talks about antibiotic-resistant bacteria as he meets with members of the his Council of Advisers on Science and Technology, Friday, March 27, 2015, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Sabrina Tavernise and Michael D. Shear, THE NEW YORK TIMES

WASHINGTON (The New York Times)—President Obama on Friday urged Congress to double the funding to confront the danger of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, calling it a major public health issue that, if left unchecked, would “cause tens of thousands of deaths, millions of illnesses.”

The administration also issued a new plan for attacking the problem, part of a national strategy that Mr. Obama laid out in an executive order in September. The plan calls for improved surveillance of outbreaks, better diagnostic tests and new research on alternative drugs. It also urges government agencies to bolster systems to track the consumption of antibiotics and to reduce inappropriate use in people and animals.

“We take antibiotics for granted for a lot of illnesses that can be deadly and debilitating,” Mr. Obama said after meeting at the White House with members of his council on science and technology. “Part of the solution is not just finding replacements for traditional antibiotics, but also making sure we use antibiotics properly.”

When the executive order was issued last year, experts praised the administration for finally focusing on a problem that infectious disease doctors had been warning about for years.

But many said the strategy should have recommended tougher measures against the overuse of antibiotics in agriculture, which, they argue, is a substantial part of the problem.

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