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Global Health
July 21, 2020

Alarming Antimicrobial Resistance Trends Emerge Globally

JAMA. 2020;324(3):223. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.11330

Since its launch in 2015, a World Health Organization (WHO) initiative has revealed alarmingly high rates of global antimicrobial resistance in certain pathogens that cause common infections.

Klebsiella pneumoniae was resistant to ciprofloxacin in 34 countries, according to a World Health Organization surveillance system.

David Dorward, PhD/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

The WHO’s Global Antimicrobial Resistance and Use Surveillance System (GLASS) has helped countries collect, analyze, and share standardized data on antimicrobial resistance from 2 million patients in 66 countries. Another 2 dozen countries enrolled in the program haven’t yet reported resistance data. The program intends to help countries implement evidence-based strategies to control drug resistance.

In its recent analysis, 79% of the infections reported to GLASS were urinary tract infections and 20% were bloodstream infections. In 33 countries, the proportion of Escherichia coli that was resistant to ciprofloxacin ranged from 8.4% to 92.9%, whereas 4.1% to 79.4% of Klebsiella pneumoniae were resistant to it in 34 countries. Antibiotic overuse during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic could further accelerate the problem, according to the WHO, which has published guidance on judicious use for patients with COVID-19.

“As we gather more evidence, we see more clearly and more worryingly how fast we are losing critically important antimicrobial medicines all over the world,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, MSc, said in a statement. “These data underscore the importance both of protecting the antimicrobials we have and developing new ones, to effectively treat infections, preserve health gains made in the last century and ensure a secure future.”