Today we are living with the realities of a highly contagious, infectious disease for which we were globally unprepared. While COVID-19 is permeating communities nationwide, and significant progress towards treatments and a vaccine continues, it is clearly an important time to get a better understanding of how we can prepare for, prevent and react to future infectious outbreaks.
Though the exact nature of future threats is hard to anticipate, we have an existing, and growing, threat that we not only can predict, but can take immediate steps to help avoid a larger crisis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 2.8 million antibiotic-resistant infections occur in the U.S. each year and more than 35,000 people die as a result. According to a recent GAO report, this may even be an underestimate of the problem. Despite this evident urgency for new antibiotics, the pipeline is sparse.
As we have learned from the current challenges with COVID-19, people with chronic underlying health conditions – currently one in two Americans – are more vulnerable to infectious disease and often suffer further complications when dealing with an infection. This is why the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD) has broadened its efforts to convene this group of patients, providers, community organizations, business and labor groups, and health policy experts to lead a new initiative named the Partnership to Fight Infectious Disease (PFID).
Raising awareness of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) now and driving action to help fight it is the best way to prepare for and lessen future threats. This is why PFID recently convened a panel of experts to discuss the growing threat of AMR.
Amanda Jezek of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and Kevin Outterson of CARB-X joined Ken Thorpe, PFCD Chair, to speak about the real-world impact of AMR, the threat it poses to modern medicine, and the steps that we can take today to help fight back.
AMR threats are continuously emerging throughout the world, rendering many existing drugs ineffective, shrinking our treatment arsenal, and hampering the successes of organ transplantation, cancer chemotherapy, and other major surgeries, as well as care for preterm infants and immunocompromised patients.
Sharing information that illustrates the broad impact of AMR, building support among populations most impacted and activating stakeholders to call for change are the most immediate ways that we can all take action in the fight against infectious disease.
The building blocks are present and the time to cultivate change is upon us. I encourage you to learn more by visiting www.fightinfectionsdisease.org and joining in efforts to enhance our ability to effectively respond to other threats. Modern medicine and the medical progress we’ve made rests upon our ability to prevent, diagnose, and cure infections that threaten health and the sustainability of the health care system on which we rely.