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September 2011
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From the President: A Year in Review

As my term as IDSA president nears its end, I want to let you know what a privilege it has been to serve you. Although we certainly live in challenging times, the Society’s commitment to work for the good of patients, public health, and our diverse membership remains incredibly strong. Some highlights from the past year illustrate the progress IDSA is making in high priority areas.

IDSA’s Standards and Practices Guidelines Committee released several important new guidelines for clinicians, including the Society’s first-ever guideline for the treatment of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections and the first national guideline for the management of pneumonia in children, a joint effort with the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society (PIDS). A growing number of IDSA guidelines are now available in formats for PDAs, iPhones, and iPads, and as pocketcards (see the new IDSA website).

Documenting the value that ID specialists provide to the health care system through improved patient outcomes and reduced health care costs remains an important focus for the Society. IDSA’s Value of ID Specialists Task Force is continuing its work with a health services research firm to assess the value ID clinicians provide to patients and the health system at large.

There is also a special focus on ensuring that the non-patient care activities of ID specialists will be recognized and compensated under the new reimbursement mechanisms envisioned under health care reform. The Clinical Affairs Committee is monitoring the rapidly changing practice environment and promoting the need for equitable reimbursement for the services provided by ID specialists.

Much progress has been made on efforts to address antimicrobial resistance and the antibiotic pipeline crisis:

  • Earlier this month, IDSA, the Pew Health Group, and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) held a one-day conference with leaders from government, academia, industry, and the medical and public health communities to discuss how to stimulate new antibiotic development (see related article).
  • In April, IDSA worked with the World Health Organization (WHO) to publicize World Health Day 2011 which focused on antimicrobial resistance. IDSA held both a press conference at the National Press Club and a congressional briefing in Washington, D.C. The Society also released an important new policy paper outlining recommendations and identifying research priorities to address the crisis (see April 2011 IDSA News).
  • The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) announced a plan for a new clinical trials network primarily focused on antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections, a step IDSA strongly urged NIAID to take. As NIAID’s planning progresses, IDSA will continue to communicate with you about developments.
  • IDSA continues to strongly advocate for the 10 x ’20 initiative, which calls for the adoption of incentives to spur the development of 10 new systemic antibiotics by 2020 and a multipronged, long-term approach to address resistance and the lack of new antibiotic development. With one drug approved so far, it’s clear that we have a long way to go. IDSA is also working to strengthen and enact new legislation in Congress that contains new incentives targeting the diminishing antibiotic pipeline.

In a time of difficult economic constraints, IDSA has advocated for appropriate federal funding for public health and research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, and other agencies. The Society has emphasized the long-term value of these investments in preventing needless deaths and reducing health care costs. We will continue to emphasize this message to Congress.

Earlier this month, IDSA and HIVMA launched redesigned websites, part of our commitment to improve communication with members. If you haven’t visited the redesigned sites yet, please do. We welcome your feedback as we continue to work to improve the Society’s online tools (see related article for information to help you navigate the new sites).

Another highlight of this year is the 49th Annual Meeting of IDSA and HIVMA in Boston on October 20-23.This year’s terrific program, developed under the leadership of Barbara D. Alexander, MD, FIDSA, chair of the Annual Meeting Program Committee, features several notable additions: a new global ID programming track; a Friday afternoon symposium focused on “One Health,” an approach that recognizes the connections among people, domestic animals and wildlife, and the environment, and their relevance to infectious disease emergence; and a special Presidential Plenary Session on Sunday morning featuring three lectures on cholera by Stephen J. Calderwood, MD, FIDSA, of Massachusetts General Hospital; J. William Pape, MD, of GHESKIO; and Scott F. Dowell, MD, MPH, of CDC. In addition, I will provide an update on IDSA activities.

Looking ahead, plans are progressing for IDWeek 2012, the first-ever joint meeting of IDSA, the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA), HIVMA, and PIDS, next fall in San Diego.

Thomas Slama, MD, FIDSA, will assume the role of IDSA president on Oct. 23 in Boston. I am certain his leadership will help the Society build on its accomplishments and serve our diverse and growing membership. He will have much on his plate, as our recent strategic priority setting session indicates (see July/Aug. 2011 IDSA News).  He will benefit, as I have, from the excellent work and dedication of IDSA leaders, committee members, and staff.

It has been an honor to serve you this past year. I look forward to seeing you in Boston.
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