The World Health Organization (WHO) late last week released a package of recommended interventions to help countries address antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in the human health sector.
Based on a review of evidence and multidisciplinary expert option, the document outlines a people-centered approach that aims to address the challenges and barriers that people face when they use healthcare services to prevent, diagnose, and treat drug-resistant infections. The WHO says the first objectives of this approach, which it wants countries to prioritize when developing and implementing national AMR action plans, is to shift the AMR narrative away from a solely biological phenomenon toward a people-centered narrative.
"The 13 core interventions and accompanying priority actions are designed to address AMR in a programmatic manner that puts people, their needs and equitable access to health services at the centre of the AMR response in the community, in primary care, secondary and tertiary care, and at national and/or subnational level," the document states.
While more than 170 countries have developed national AMR action plans, the WHO notes the implementation of these plans in the human health sector has been "fragmented and siloed," and that greater political commitment and funding is needed. In the latest WHO tracking survey, only 28% of countries reported that they are implementing and monitoring their action plans.
Effective governance, awareness, and education
Among the 13 proposed interventions, 5 are associated with what the WHO calls the "foundational steps" of effective governance, awareness, and education. They include AMR advocacy and accountability in the human health sector in collaboration with the government and other sectors, raising awareness about AMR and providing education for the public and healthcare workers, developing a national AMR and antimicrobial use surveillance strategy and using the data to guide patient care, and developing a national AMR research agenda.
Interventions categorized under the pillar of prevention include ensuring universal access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene; implementing WHO core components for infection prevention and control; and providing access to vaccines and expanded immunization.
The 13 core interventions and accompanying priority actions are designed to address AMR in a programmatic manner that puts people, their needs and equitable access to health services at the centre of the AMR response.
Other interventions include ensuring universal access to healthcare services and quality-assured antibiotics and diagnostics, providing patients with timely diagnoses and evidence-based treatments guided by antimicrobial stewardship principles, and implementing regulations and restrictions on non-prescription antibiotic sales.
"This practical set of interventions, based on the need for a strong people-centred response in the human health sector, will greatly contribute to One Health actions under the umbrella of multisectoral national action plans on AMR," Kitty Van Weezenbeek, MD, PhD, MPH, director of surveillance, prevention, and control for the WHO's AMR Division, said in a WHO press release.