WHO’s tool for fighting antimicrobial resistance

2 minute read

Governments are being warned to “handle antibiotics with care” and use a tool which categorises drugs by level of antimicrobial resistance

An online tool organising antibiotics into three groups – access, watch and reserve –should be implemented to reduce the global spread of antimicrobial resistance, the WHO says. 

The program, called AWaRe, was recently launched by the WHO essential medicines list. The program encourages governments to reduce antibiotic use from the ‘watch’ and ‘reserve’ category (most at risk of resistance) and increase the global distribution of antibiotics in the ‘access’ category by 60%.

GPs can search the free online database using antibiotic names, or indications, to find out which antibiotics are recommended for common serious infections and ones which are seen as a last resort.

“Antimicrobial resistance is one of the most urgent health risks of our time and threatens to undo a century of medical progress,” Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, said. 

“All countries must strike a balance between ensuring access to life-saving antibiotics and slowing drug resistance by reserving the use of some antibiotics for the hardest-to-treat infections,” he said.

Previous WHO reports have estimated more than half of all antibiotics used around the world are done so inappropriately, such as for treatment of viruses or incorrect use of broad spectrum antibiotics, leading to increased antimicrobial resistance.

However the antibiotics listed in the access group are targeted narrow spectrum, meaning the risk of resistance is lower in this group.

In addition, the narrow spectrum antibiotics, listed in the access category are available in generic formulations, making them a more affordable option for governments and consumers.

Dr Mariângela Simão, assistant-director general for access to medicines said the emergence of infections that were untreatable by all classes of antibiotics in recent times was proof we were already living in a “post-antibiotic era”.

“We must safeguard these precious last-line antibiotics to ensure we can still treat and prevent serious infections,” she said.

For more information, go to: https://aware.essentialmeds.org

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