WHO publishes list of bacteria that pose a threat to human health

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Antibiotics. WHO/S. Volkov

For the first time ever, the World Health Organization (WHO) has published a catalogue of 12 families of bacteria that pose the greatest threat to human health.

The move is part of the agency's efforts to address growing global resistance to antimicrobial medicines.

The list is divided into three categories according to the urgency of need for new antibiotics; from critical to high and medium priority.

Jocelyne Sambira reports.

The WHO list highlights in particular the threat of the so-called gram-negative bacteria that are resistant to multiple antibiotics.

These bacteria have built-in abilities to find new ways to resist treatment and can pass along genetic material that allows other bacteria to become drug-resistant as well.

Health experts from the world's 20 major economies, also known as the G20, are meeting in the German capital of Berlin this week to draw attention to this problem.

They also want to discuss how the WHO list can guide the research and development of new antibiotics.

Christian Lindmeier is the WHO spokesperson.

"This would be the first-ever list of antibiotic-resistant "priority pathogens"—a catalogue of 12 families of bacteria that posed the greatest threat to human health. The list—which was divided into three categories according to urgency of the need for new antibiotics: critical, high and medium priority—had been drawn up in a bid to guide and promote research and development of new antibiotics."

The most critical group of all includes multidrug resistant bacteria that pose a particular threat in hospitals, nursing homes, and among patients whose care requires devices such as ventilators and blood catheters.

They can cause severe and often deadly infections such as bloodstream infections and pneumonia.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 1’35”

 

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