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HPA experts contribute to WHO publication on antibiotic resistance

A team of leading Health Protection Agency (HPA) experts have contributed to a World Health Organization (WHO) publication entitled ‘The evolving threat of Antimicrobial Resistance: Options for Action’ which is published recently

Antibiotic resistance is recognised as being a global problem and it requires a wide range of solutions to manage it. This WHO publication has been compiled with advice from organisations and leading experts from around the world to provide a comprehensive guide to what actions can be taken to reduce the spread of resistant bacteria.

These include:

  • Surveillance of antimicrobial resistance and the use of antimicrobials
    • Better surveillance enables resistance rates to be monitored in specific locations and hence, inform policy
  • Rational antimicrobial use and regulation
    • Suggestions include educating prescribers, encouraging restrictions to a specific range of antimicrobials and prescription audits
  • Antimicrobial use in animal husbandry
    • Among a range of options, the consideration of the potential for resistance to human drugs prior to licensing and the development of guidelines for vets to reduce overuse and misuse of antimicrobials in food animals
  • Infection prevention and control
    • the report again highlights the importance of infrastructure, laboratory support, staff, protocols and practices and surveillance to improve infection prevention and control
  • Fostering innovations
    • The encouragement of collaboration between industry, government bodies and academic institutions in the search for new drugs as well as incentives to promote R&D, fast tracking market authorisation and partnerships to promote access to new products
  • Political commitment
    • The WHO facilitate action through advocating action and shaping collaborations between different stakeholders as well as facilitating the development of evidence based guidance, norms and standards

Dr David Heymann, Chairman of the HPA contributed to the report. He said: “Antimicrobial resistance is a global problem and it requires an international solution to tackle it. This report gives a detailed history of five key issues that contribute to the development of antibiotic resistance and suggests ways that could help to form a basis for action to address them.

“Bacteria will always evolve to become resistant and this is a natural part of the cycle of evolution but by reducing the pressures that cause resistance we can help to preserve the antibiotics that we do have and no-one can underestimate how important this is.

“Tackling this problem is going to require effort from individuals, organisations and nations alike. But by working together we can help to combat this problem. I am confident that the advice and guidance in this publication will prove invaluable in helping point a way towards changing practices in our use of antibiotics and allowing us to preserve this exceptionally important part of modern medicine.”

Notes for editors:

  1. The publication is available on the WHO website at: http://www.who.int/patientsafety/implementation/amr/publication/en/index.html external link
  2. Other HPA contributors included Professor Barry Cookson who co-authored Chapter 5: Prevention and control of infection in health care facilities.
  3. The Health Protection Agency is an independent UK organisation that was set up by the government in 2003 to protect the public from threats to their health from infectious diseases and environmental hazards. In April 2013, subject to the usual approvals procedures for establishing new bodies, the Health Protection Agency will become part of a new organisation called Public Health England, an executive agency of the Department of Health. To find out more, visit our website: www.hpa.org.uk
  4. For more information please contact the national HPA press office at Colindale on 0208 327 7901 or email colindale-pressoffice@hpa.org.uk. Out of hours the duty press officer can be contacted on 0208 200 4400.