The WHO has launched a global campaign urging governments to adopt the new AWaRe tool to help reduce the spread of antimicrobial resistance, adverse events and costs.
The AWaRe tool developed by WHO Essential Medicines List aims to contain rising resistance and make antibiotic use safer and more effective.
Classifying antibiotics into three groups – Access, Watch and Reserve – the AWaRe tool specifies which antibiotics need to be used for the most common and serious infections, which ones should be available at all times in the healthcare system, and those that must be used sparingly or preserved and used only as a last resort.
The AWaRe campaign aims to increase the proportion of global consumption of antibiotics in the Access group to at least 60%, and to reduce use of the antibiotics most at risk of resistance from the Watch and Reserve groups.
Using Access antibiotics lowers the risk of resistance because they are ‘narrow-spectrum’ antibiotics (that target a specific microorganism rather than several). They are also less costly because they are available in generic formulations, explains WHO
In the absence of new significant investments into the development of new antibiotics, improving the use of antibiotics is one of the key actions needed to curb further emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance.
By classifying antibiotics into three distinct groups, and advising on when to use them, AWaRe makes it easier for policy-makers, prescribers and health workers to select the right antibiotic at the right time, and to protect endangered antibiotics.
“The AWaRe tool can guide policy to ensure patients keep being treated, while also limiting use of the antibiotics most at risk of resistance.”said Dr Hanan Balkhy, WHO Assistant-Director General for antimicrobial resistance.
“All countries must strike a balance between ensuring access to life-saving antibiotics and slowing drug resistance by reserving the use of some antibiotics for the hardest-to-treat infections. I urge countries to adopt AWaRe, which is a valuable and practical tool for doing just that.” stressed Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.
“Antimicrobial resistance is an invisible pandemic,” said Dr Mariângela Simão, Assistant-Director General for Access to Medicines. “We are already starting to see signs of a post-antibiotic era, with the emergence of infections that are untreatable by all classes of antibiotics. We must safeguard these precious last-line antibiotics to ensure we can still treat and prevent serious infections.”