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During Antibiotic Awareness Week, we acknowledge the critical role antibiotics play in modern healthcare, and we highlight the important work of medical professionals in ensuring that antibiotics are prescribed responsibly to patients.

Since their discovery nine decades ago, antibiotics have transformed the world and increased life expectancy.  They have been instrumental in combating illnesses that previously were deadly or debilitating and have saved countless lives.  However, antibiotics are among the most frequently prescribed medications in human and animal medicine, and antibiotic resistance can result from their use.  Antibiotic resistance is a serious problem that contributes to tens of thousands of deaths in the United States each year, and can emerge within a community and quickly spread around the world, affecting healthcare and veterinary care.

The United States will continue to take significant actions to combat antibiotic resistance.  In September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched the Antimicrobial Resistance Challenge, a global public-private partnership to accelerate the fight against antimicrobial resistance, including antibiotic resistance.  Over 100 organizations from diverse sectors and countries have already signed up, but more are needed to join the fight against this urgent public health threat.  Everyone can help combat antibiotic resistance, including food producers, healthcare providers, private-sector leaders, and the American people during the course of their daily lives.  Actions can be as simple as talking to your healthcare provider about the best way to prevent and treat illnesses, getting recommended vaccines, and taking antibiotics only when necessary.

This week, we resolve to improve awareness of the threat of antibiotic resistance, and we encourage all Americans to learn more about the importance of the responsible prescription and use of antibiotics.