New WHO Report Reveals Rising Levels of Antibiotic Resistance

A new report published by the World Health Organization (WHO) has revealed that human beings are displaying increased resistance to antibiotics in bacterial infections. Several strains of resistant bacteria are leading to life-threatening infections in the bloodstream and an inability to adequately eliminate bacteria that cause many common infections. The Global Antimicrobial Resistance and Use Surveillance System (GLASS) report resulted from the participation of 127 countries with 72 per cent of the global population.
A Resistance to Common Infections
The report indicated that a high level of resistance (over 50 per cent) was found in bacteria (including Klebsiella pneumoniae and Acinetobacter spp) that frequently cause bloodstream infections in hospitals. These infections can be deadly, and they are treated with last-resort antibiotics such as carbapenems. These antibiotics are similar to penicillins and cephalosporins, but they have a wider range of activity compared to these traditional medications. Other bacteria that are resistant to common antibiotics are over 60 per cent of Neisseria Gonorrhoea cultures and over 20 per cent of E coli cultures (the latter is the most common bacteria found in urinary infections).
The Reason for Increased Antibiotic Resistance
The report shows that more research is required to identify the reason for the increase in antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and the extent to which it is linked to rising numbers of hospitalizations during the pandemic. It also indicated that countries with lower testing rates (lower and middle-income countries) are more likely to reveal higher AMR rates. This may be due to the fact that very few of these hospitals reported their findings, and these hospitals often housed patients who were seriously ill and who may have received antibiotic treatment. Of course, hospitals also vary in cleaning routines. Hospitals require highly specialized cleaning in zones such as floors, walls, windows, operating theatres, and even roofs. Those with lower budgets are less likely to be able to comply with the stringent requirements that can help reduce the number of bacteria patients are exposed to.
Countries Need Improved Surveillance
In order to interpret AMR rates accurately, the WHO has taken a two-part strategy. The first involves introducing representative AMR prevalence surveys in various countries. The second is centered on increasing the number of quality laboratories that can report AMR data at various levels in health systems. Strengthening the quality of data is key if countries are to effectively stop the emergence and spread of deadly bacteria. It can also help scientists develop effective medications against these ‘superbugs’. Some bacteria are already showing resistance even to last-resort antibiotics.
A new WHO report shows that AMR resistance is rising across the globe. Researchers are still aiming to ascertain the effect that the pandemic had on this phenomenon. Greater surveillance is needed in all nations, so that scientists can accurately identify trends and develop an efficient preventive system. The information gleaned will also lead to the creation of more effective treatments that can put a stop to common and rare infections alike.