According to an official statement by the World Health Organization this Monday, there are twelve new superbugs considered as “critical priorities” for the medical community, as recent studies generated the attachment of the bacteria to that list.
The principal criteria used by the scientists at the WHO for introducing new bacteria to the list of “critical priorities” have to do with how much risk do they represent to human populations across the globe. This risk is measured based on the resistance the bacteria is having in that particular moment, as well as its current mortality rate and prevalence demonstrated within communities.
The international organization is recommending governments worldwide and pharmaceutical companies to list these bacterias as the priorities when developing antibiotics to be offered to the public.
Hospital in part responsible for the bacteria’s risk
There are already a couple of bacteria listed by the WHO as “gram-negative,” as they have shown its resistance to a variety of drugs prescripted by medical centers.
Acinetobacter baumannii and Pseudomonas aeruginosa are the bacteria already included in the list, and they have another thing in common besides being hazardous for humans: they are commonly acquired in hospitals.
These bacteria mentioned before are acquired through infections that are often present in hospital centers or other health facilities like nursing homes. Also, patients that need the use of materials like blood catheters and ventilators which are likely to get contaminated are at risk of acquiring the infection and therefore the bacteria.
Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Innovation, says that new treatments are an imperative for the medical community as “these bacteria are responsible for high mortality rates.”
According to a recent survey done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), when combining registers from most of the United States’ hospitals, it was shown how one in 25 hospital patients are estimated to have at least one hospital-acquired infection. Remembering how dangerous are these infections are regarding the critical-listed bacteria, this represents a serious public health problem for the United States government.
The WHO stated that antibiotic-resistant bacteria is present in all the countries of the world, as the diseases caused by the micro-organisms are responsible for over 700,000 deaths annually.
Investigations conducted by the international health office have demonstrated how, if this problem is not attacked, it could translate into the death of more than 10 million persons by the year 2050.
Carbapenems are among the antibiotics that attack more efficiently several types of bacteria. However, the study showed how the bacteria listed as “critical priorities” are not affected in a considerable way by the use of the drug in patients.
Dr. Andrew Edwards, a molecular microbiologist at Imperial College London, has explained the importance of governments supporting the developing of mechanisms to attack the bacteria for the humankind being able of defeating superbugs.
“This shows that WHO see antibiotic resistance as a major global challenge. Hopefully this will focus efforts on these areas of greatest need,” said Dr. Edwards.”There’s no point having these drugs if there are no policies in place.”