WHO revises antibiotics protocol

The WHO has now recommended that antibiotics in the ‘access’ group be available at all times as treatment for a wide range of common infections. This includes amoxicillin, a widely-used antibiotic to treat infections such as pneumonia.

The ‘watch’ group covers antibiotics that are recommended as first or second choice treatment for a small number of infections.

Ciprofloxacin, used to treat cystitis (a type of urinary tract infection) and upper respiratory tract infections (like bacterial sinusitis and bacterial bronchitis), falls under this category. The WHO has recommended that prescription of these drugs should be dramatically reduced to avoid further development of resistance.

The third group, ‘reserve’, includes antibiotics such as colistin and some cephalosporins that should be considered last-resort options, and used only in the most severe circumstances when all other alternatives have failed, such as for life-threatening infections due to multidrug-resistant bacteria.

The new categorisation will further guide countries in ensuring access to appropriate antibacterial agents and support antimicrobial stewardship effort, said Dr. Sumanth Gandra from the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy (CDDEP).

Model list

“The Model List of Essential Medicines necessarily has a sharp focus on preserving antimicrobials. This list serves as a guide for the medicine supply system and is responsible for promoting health equity,” said Dr. Gandra, who was a part of the WHO expert committee that helped shape the revised list and recommended these three categories.

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