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WHO revises antibiotics protocol

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In an effort to curb antibiotic resistance, World Health Organization (WHO) has divided the drugs into three categories viz. ‘access’, ‘watch’ and ‘reserve’ and has specified utilisation norms for each category. This is considered as the biggest revision of the antibiotics section in the 40-year history of the essential medicines list (EML).

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  • ‘Access’ category: This category comprises commonly used antibiotics, to be available at all times as treatment for a wide range of common infections. Includes amoxicillin – a widely-used antibiotic to treat infections such as pneumonia.
  • ‘Watch’ category: Second line of antibiotics that are slightly more potent. Includes drugs such as Ciprofloxacin that is used to treat a type of urinary tract infection and upper respiratory tract infections. Drugs in this category are to be recommended for small number of infections. WHO has stated that prescription of these drugs should be curtailed in order to avoid further development of resistance.
  • ‘Reserve’ category: Potent drugs that should be used only as a “last resort”. Includes antibiotics such as colistin and some cephalosporins. Usage of drugs in this group should only be done when all other alternatives have failed and the patient is in a life-threatening situation.

This categorisation will serve as guidelines for member countries and will help in curbing antibiotic resistance.

Quick Facts about World Health Organization (WHO):

WHO is aspecialised agency of the United Nations that is concerned with international public health.

  • It was established on April 7, 1948.
  • Headquarters of WHO is located in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • It has played an instrumental role in theeradication of smallpox.
  • ‘World Health Report’, a leading international publication on health is prepared by WHO.
  • Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is the Director-Generl-elect of WHO. He will assume charge on July 1, 2017.