The World Health Organisation (WHO) has launched a new Global Antimicrobial Surveillance System (GLASS), a global effort to address drug resistance. The GLASS will involve the development of tools and standards and improved collaboration around the world to track drug resistance, measure its health and economic impacts, and design targeted solutions. WHO reported new surveillance data on Monday which reveals widespread resistance to some of the world’s most common infections, including E. coliand pneumonia.
The agency said Antimicrobials have been a driver of unprecedented medical and societal advances, but their overuse has resulted in antibiotic resistant bacteria. Dr Marc Sprenger, Director of WHO’s Antimicrobial Resistance Secretariat, said at the launch of the agency’s GLASS: “the report confirms the serious situation of antibiotic resistance worldwide,” He said the most commonly reported resistant bacteria were Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pneumoniae, followed by Salmonella spp. According to him, while the system did not include data on the resistance of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which causes tuberculosis, WHO has been tracking and providing annual updates on it since 1994, in the Global tuberculosis report. Mr. Sprenger said among patients with suspected bloodstream infection, the proportion that had bacteria resistant to at least one of the most commonly used antibiotics ranged widely – from zero to 82 per cent – between different countries. He said resistance to penicillin, which had been used for decades to treat pneumonia, ranged from zero to 51 per cent among reporting countries. Mr. Sprenger added that between eight to 65 per cent of E. coli associated with urinary tract infections presented resistance to the antibiotic commonly used to treat it, ciprofloxacin. “Some of the world’s most common – and potentially most dangerous – infections are proving drug-resistant. And most worrying of all, pathogens don’t respect national borders,” he added. To date, 25 high-income, 20 middle-income and seven low-income countries are enrolled in WHO’s Global Antimicrobial Surveillance System. For the first report, 40 countries provided information on national surveillance systems with 22 also providing data on antibiotic resistance levels. He said the quality and completeness of data in this first GLASS report vary widely. Some countries face major challenges in building their national surveillance systems, including a lack of personnel, funds and infrastructure. Dr Carmem Pessoa-Silva, WHO Surveillance System Coordinator said the report was a vital first step towards improving our understanding of the extent of antimicrobial resistance. “Surveillance is in its infancy, but it is vital to develop it if we are to anticipate and tackle one of the biggest threats to global public health” “WHO is supporting countries in setting up national antimicrobial resistance surveillance systems to produce reliable, meaningful data, with GLASS helping to standardise data collection for a more complete picture of patterns and trends.” Solid drug resistance surveillance programmes in tuberculosis, HIV and malaria have been functioning for years – estimating disease burden, planning diagnostic and treatment services, monitoring control interventions effectiveness and designing effective treatment regimens to address and prevent future resistance.