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FILE - This illustration released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a group of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. VOA

The World Health Organization (WHO) is launching a new tool to reduce the spread of antimicrobial resistance. Its global initiative, so-called AWaRe campaign, is aimed at making decision and policymakers aware of the appropriate and effective use of antibiotics for specific infections.

Antimicrobial resistance is growing because of the widespread abuse and misuse of antibiotics. The WHO considers antimicrobial resistance one of the most urgent health risks in the world. It warns a century of medical progress will be undone without accelerated action to contain rising resistance by making antibiotic use safer and more effective.

WHO assistant director general for access to medicines Mariangela Simao says pneumonia kills many children in developing countries because they do not get appropriate medication.

“More than almost a million deaths in developing countries is due to treatable bacterial diseases, which can in most cases be linked to the lack of access to antibiotics, or to wrong diagnostics, or to wrong prescriptions,” she said. “So, we, by launching this tool, WHO aims at narrowing the gap between excess use and access.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) is launching a new tool to reduce the spread of antimicrobial resistance. Pixabay

The tool is based on the WHO Essential Medicines List. The list specifies which antibiotics to use for the most common and serious infections and those which should be available at all times in the health care system.

WHO Assistant Director General for Antimicrobial Resistance, Hanan Balkhy, says the Essential Medicines List also indicates those antibiotics that must be used sparingly and as a last resort.

“We expect that the list will actually be a legitimate reference for health care providers who would like to understand the better ways of prescribing antibiotics,” she said. “And that following these guidelines will actually help them in having a system of how they would prescribe antibiotics, and have it based on a legitimate resource, which is the WHO.”

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The World Health Organization notes no significant investments are being made in the development of new antibiotics. Therefore it says improving the use of existing antibiotics is critical to curb the further spread of antimicrobial resistance. It says its new guidelines will help prescribers and health workers select the right antibiotic for the right infection, thereby protecting endangered antibiotics. (VOA)


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