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WHO report provides data for high levels of antimicrobial resistance in bacteria

GLASS involved 72% of the world’s population, achieving participation from 127 countries


The World Health Organization (WHO) has shared a new report – the Global Antimicrobial Resistance and Use Surveillance System (GLASS) report – detailing evidence of high levels of resistance in bacteria, leading to life-threatening bloodstream infections.

WHO also found patterns of increasing resistance to treatment in several bacteria-causing common infections in the community, based on data provided by 87 countries in 2020.

The findings are significant as the GLASS report provides, for the first time, analyses for antimicrobial resistance (AMR) rates in the context of national testing coverage, as well as AMR trends since 2017 and data on antimicrobial consumption in humans in 27 countries. In addition, the report includes an innovative interactive digital format to accommodate data extraction and graphics.

In a six year timeframe, the report managed to involve 72% of the world’s population, achieving participation from 127 countries.

In its findings, the report demonstrates above 50% of resistance were reported in bacteria frequently causing bloodstream infections in hospitals, which included Klebsiella pneumoniae and Acinetobacter spp. Carbapenems are an example of the treatment required for such life-threatening infections, but are only to be used as a last resort measure.

However, the GLASS report highlighted the concerning statistic that 8% of bloodstream infections caused by Klebsiella pneumoniae showed up as being resistant to carbapenems, further increasing the risk of death as a result of unmanageable infections.

More common bacterial infections are becoming resistant to treatments, with over 60% of Neisseria gonorrhoea isolates – a common sexually transmitted disease – have shown resistance to ciprofloxacin, which is one of the most used oral antibacterials.

Moreover, the report showed that over 20% of E coli isolates – the most common pathogen in urinary tract infections – were resistant to ampicillin and co-trimoxazole, both first-line drugs, and fluoroquinolones, which are the class of antibiotics used to treat or prevent certain infections as second-line treatments.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, said: “To truly understand the extent of the global threat and mount an effective public health response to AMR, we must scale up microbiology testing and provide quality-assured data across all countries, not just wealthier ones.”

Further research is required to determine the reasons behind the reported AMR increase, with more in-depth analysis in relation to hospitalisation increases and antibiotic treatment use during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of the pandemic, many countries were unable to provide data for 2020.

New data shows that low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) with a lower testing coverage, are more likely to report significantly higher AMR rates for most ‘bug-drug’ combinations. WHO suggests this might be attributed, in part, to the fact that in many LMICs, a limited number of referral hospitals report to GLASS. It is in these hospitals that the sickest patients receive care, who may have been given treatment previously.

Article by
Fleur Jeffries

9th December 2022

From: Healthcare



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