Antibiotics in the Access group include amoxicillin, a widely-used antibiotic to treat infections such as pneumonia
The World Health Organization(WHO) has today released new guidelines on the use of antibiotics as strategy to combat the increasing rates of drug resistance.
In a statement released today, the global health agency has classified antibiotics into three categories; Access, Watch and Reserve with specific guidelines on when each can be used.
“The change aims to ensure that antibiotics are available when needed, and that the right antibiotics are prescribed for the right infections. It should enhance treatment outcomes, reduce the development of drug-resistant bacteria, and preserve the effectiveness of “last resort” antibiotics that are needed when all others fail” reads the statement.
Described as one of the major revisions in the agency’s essential medicines’ 40-year history, the WHO recommends that antibiotics in the Access group should be available at all times as treatments for a wide range of common infections. Antibiotics in the Access group include amoxicillin, a widely-used antibiotic to treat infections such as pneumonia.
The Watch group includes antibiotics recommended as first- or second-choice treatments for a small number of infections. For example, the use of ciprofloxacin, used to treat cystitis (a type of urinary tract infection) and upper respiratory tract infections (such as bacterial sinusitis and bacterial bronchitis), should be dramatically reduced to avoid further development of resistance.
Under the Reserve group, there are antibiotics that should be considered as a last resort and used in severe circumstances when all other alternatives have failed. This includes antibiotics such as colistin and some cephalosporins.
“The rise in antibiotic resistance stems from how we are using – and misusing – these medicines,” said Dr Suzanne Hill, Director of Essential Medicines and Health Products.
She according to the statement added that the new WHO list should help health system planners and prescribers ensure people who need antibiotics have access to them, and ensure they get the right one, so that the problem of resistance doesn’t get worse.
In a 2016 article titled ‘Review of microbial resistance in East Africa’ by Lucas Ampaire and others, their findings revealed that resistance to commonly used antibiotics such as ampicillin, tetracyclines and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, is prevalent and common in East Africa and may be a growing problem especially among hospitalised and post-operative patients.
“Overall, bacterial resistance was reported among commonly-used antibiotics (ampicillin, gentamicin and ceftriaxone), raising concern that these antibiotics may no longer be useful for treating moderate or severe bacterial infections in East Africa.” read the study. Some studies have but antibiotic resistance in the averages of 60-80% for the different drugs in the region.