June 25, 2024

WHO Updates List Of Drug-Resistant Bacteria Threatening Health

To Combat Antimicrobial Resistance

The World Health Organization (WHO) has unveiled its latest Bacterial Priority Pathogens List (BPPL) 2024, underscoring 15 families of antibiotic-resistant bacteria posing significant threats to global health.

The list categorised into critical, high, and medium priority groups, is a pivotal guide for prioritising research and development efforts to combat antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

AMR, a phenomenon where bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites become resistant to medications, poses grave challenges to public health by rendering conventional treatments ineffective.

Rooted in the misuse and overuse of antimicrobials, AMR exacerbates illness severity, escalates disease transmission, and elevates mortality rates. The updated BPPL integrates new evidence and expert insights to inform international collaboration and spur innovation in combating AMR.

Dr Yukiko Nakatani, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Antimicrobial Resistance ad interim, emphasised the critical role of the BPPL in guiding investments and addressing the antibiotic pipeline crisis.

“By mapping the global burden of drug-resistant bacteria and assessing their impact on public health, this list is key to guiding investment and grappling with the antibiotics pipeline and access crisis,” said Dr Nakatani.

“Since the first Bacterial Priority Pathogens List was released in 2017, the threat of antimicrobial resistance has intensified, eroding the efficacy of numerous antibiotics and putting many of the gains of modern medicine at risk.”

Intensifying Threat

Since its inception in 2017, the list has evolved to reflect the intensifying threat of AMR, jeopardising the efficacy of numerous antibiotics and endangering medical advancements. Your work is crucial in this fight against AMR.

The critical priority pathogens, such as gram-negative bacteria resistant to last-resort antibiotics and Mycobacterium tuberculosis resistant to rifampicin, pose imminent global threats due to their high burden and propensity to resist treatment.

Notably, gram-negative bacteria possess inherent mechanisms to develop resistance and can transfer genetic material, propagating resistance among other bacteria.

High-priority pathogens, including Salmonella, Shigella, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, present formidable challenges, particularly in healthcare settings and low—and middle-income countries.

Medium-priority pathogens, like Group A and B Streptococci, Streptococcus pneumoniae, and Haemophilus influenzae, demand increased attention, especially in vulnerable populations and resource-limited settings.

The WHO underscores the urgency of a comprehensive public health approach to address AMR, emphasising universal access to preventive measures, accurate diagnosis, and appropriate treatments.

This strategic framework, complemented by tailored interventions and regional adaptations, is vital in mitigating AMR’s profound impact on public health and the global economy.

The WHO BPPL 2024 includes the following bacteria:

Critical priority:

  • Acinetobacter baumannii, carbapenem-resistant;
  • Enterobacterales, third-generation cephalosporin-resistant;
  • Enterobacterales, carbapenem-resistant;
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis, rifampicin-resistant (included after an independent analysis with parallel tailored criteria and subsequent application of an adapted multi-criteria decision analysis matrix).

High priority:

  • Salmonella Typhi, fluoroquinolone-resistant;
  • Shigella spp., fluoroquinolone-resistant;
  • Enterococcus faecium, vancomycin-resistant
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa, carbapenem-resistant;
  • Non-typhoidal Salmonella, fluoroquinolone-resistant;
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae, third-generation cephalosporin- and fluoroquinolone-resistant;
  • Staphylococcus aureus, methicillin-resistant.

Medium priority:

  • Group A streptococci, macrolide-resistant;
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae, macrolide-resistant;
  • Haemophilus influenzae, ampicillin-resistant’
  • Group B streptococci, penicillin-resistant.

Featured image: The list has evolved to reflect the intensifying threat of AMR. Credit: Yassine Khalfalli

    Dan Ngiam

    Dan Ngiam

    Dan Ngiam is the Bureau Chief of 'Middle East News 247' for Southeast Asia, encompassing Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Timor-Leste, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Based in Singapore, Dan is a highly accomplished journalist, with diverse experience in the luxury industry, ranging from high-end watches to travel. He also reports extensively on the fintech and medical sectors.

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