WHO aims to build health worker knowledge of antimicrobial stewardship

Doctor writing a prescription
Doctor writing a prescription

Wavebreakmedia / iStock

The World Health Organization, following up on its 3-year-old action plan to fight antimicrobial resistance (AMR), yesterday released guidance to help ensure that health workers have the knowledge and skills they need for that effort.

The guidance is a 28-page document titled WHO Competence Framework for Health Workers' Education and Training on Antimicrobial Resistance. It is intended mainly for education and training institutions, accreditation and licensing bodies, and authorities that make health policy.

Measures to improve healthcare workers' education and training on AMR are listed as the first objective in the WHO's global action plan on AMR, which was released in 2015, the document notes. It says that major gaps exist in the awareness of AMR and in the availability of technical resources to address the problem.

Among health workers, factors that can contribute to the overuse or miscues of antimicrobials include lack of knowledge; inability to identify the cause of an infection, leading to patient pressure to prescribe antibiotics; and "a preponderance of situations that allow for financial benefit from the supply of medicines," the WHO says.

Core AMR competencies

The guidance describes "core and additional AMR competencies," which are organized in four "domain areas" and spelled out for four categories of health workers. The domain areas are "foundations that build awareness of antimicrobial resistance, appropriate use of antimicrobial agents, infection prevention and control (IPC), and diagnostic stewardship and surveillance."

The health worker categories are all health workers, prescribers, non-prescribers, and public health officers and health services managers.

The heart of the guidance is a set of tables that describe knowledge, skills, and attitudes for the health worker categories in each domain. For example, in the domain of appropriate use of antimicrobials, the guidance says that public health officers should know where and how to find the best evidence to support optimal use, should "develop a systematic approach to antimicrobial prescribing," and should "advocate for a conducive environment and management structure that prioritizes antimicrobial stewardship and encourages accountability for best practices."

Development of the guidance began about 2 years ago with a meeting that led to the mapping of AMR-related educational resources around the world and proposals for ways to address gaps. The resulting report served as the main background document for the WHO's subsequent preparation of the guidance, with help from an expert consultation group, other AMR experts, and key professional associations.

See also:

Jun 6 WHO guidance

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