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MSF response to WHO antibiotic-resistant "priority pathogens" list

MSF launched for the first time an Antibiotic Resistance Study in Lashkar Gah, Helmand, Afghanistan in January 2013. Here, bacteria from collected specimens are grown on specific media before testing their sensitivity to a panel of antibiotics. Afghanistan 2013 © Vivian Lee
“WHO’s global priority pathogen list is a valuable and urgently-needed tool to help combat the growing challenges posed by antibiotic resistance. We see – with alarming regularity – the critical-listed bacterial infections in people we treat in our field programmes, including babies and children, burns victims, and conflict and trauma injuries. It’s getting harder to treat people for drug-resistant infections in the resource-limited settings in which we work. With the priority pathogen list, we need to urgently see new antibiotics developed that are affordable, appropriate, and accessible fill a depleted drug pipeline.
“It’s important to remember that tackling the growing AMR crisis isn’t just about new drugs. Improved diagnostics – ones that are fast, easy to use in field settings, and that can determine what infections are bacterial, identify what bacteria they are, and assess whether they are resistant to certain drugs – are crucial to reducing inappropriate antibiotic use in the first place. Better infection prevention and control measures, strengthened microbiology laboratory services and surveillance, increasing the use of suitable vaccines, and better education of health professionals and patients on rational antibiotic use are among the best tools we have to prevent further development of resistant infections, and avoid the unnecessary use of the precious antibiotics we currently have.
“Governments have made important commitments to change how R&D investment into new antibiotics is spent; they should address priority health needs, and new antibiotics developed with public money should be affordable, and appropriately made available to everybody who needs them, no matter where they live. Words on a piece of paper from high level meetings aren’t going to get us the antibiotics we need – governments should stop talking and start acting on their commitments.
[UPDATE] "It is important that drug-resistant tuberculosis is recognised as a form of antimicrobial resistance and be included in WHO's global priority list of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. There is a clear and urgent need to address the critical issues of antibiotic resistance in reducing the global burden of drug-resistant tuberculosis, with more than half a million new cases of drug-resistant forms of this infection each year leading to around quarter of a million deaths. Increased funding and R&D into DR-TB is critically needed."
-Dr Rupa Kanapathipillai, Antimicrobial resistance Advisor, Médecins Sans Frontières
Page updated: 27 February 2017
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