On 29 April 2015, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that a quarter of countries that responded to a survey have national plans to preserve antimicrobial medicines like antibiotics, but many more countries must also step up to prevent the misuse of antibiotics and reduce spread of antimicrobial resistance.

The WHO survey—which was completed by 133 countries in 2013 and 2014—is the first to capture governments’ own assessments of their response to resistance to antimicrobial medicines used to treat conditions such as bloodstream infections, pneumonia, tuberculosis (TB), malaria and HIV. It summarizes current practices and structures aimed to address the issue, and shows there are significant areas for improvement.

Key findings of the report include:

·      Few countries (34 out of 133 participating in the survey) have a comprehensive national plan to fight resistance to     antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines.

·      Monitoring is key for controlling antibiotic resistance, but it is infrequent. In many countries, poor laboratory capacity, infrastructure and data management are preventing effective surveillance, which can reveal patterns of resistance and identify trends and outbreaks.

·      Sales of antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines without prescription remain widespread, with many countries lacking standard treatment guidelines, increasing the potential for overuse of antimicrobial medicines by the public and medical professionals.

·      Public awareness of the issue is low in all regions, with many people still believing that antibiotics are effective against viral infections.

·      Lack of programmes to prevent and control hospital-acquired infections remains a major problem.
Find out more about WHO’s survey and report here