Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) has updated the Bacterial Pathogens Priority List (BPPL).

About BPPL:

  • WHO prioritizes pathogens based on the urgency of the need for new antibiotics. 
  • This prioritization is a critical tool for guiding research and development efforts to address the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
  • The updated WHO BPPL categorizes 15 antibiotic-resistant bacterial families into critical, high, and medium priority levels.

What is Anti-Microbial resistance (AMR): 

  • Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is the state that arises when bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites gain resistance to antibiotics and don’t respond to medicines. 
  • In addition to making patients sicker, this raises the risk of disease transmission, sickness, and death. 
  • Antimicrobial misuse and overuse are major contributors to antimicrobial resistance.

Public Health Implications of AMR:

  • Increased mortality and morbidity: AMR makes infections harder to treat, which can lead to increased illness duration, complications, and even death.
  • Undermining modern medicine: Antibiotics and antimicrobials are for surgeries, chemotherapy, and managing chronic conditions like cystic fibrosis.
  • Economic burden: AMR leads to longer hospital stays, increased healthcare costs, and lost productivity due to illness. 
  • Global threat: AMR is a global problem, affecting all countries regardless of income level. However, low- and middle-income countries are worst affected by it.

Key Highlights:

  • Since the first BPPL in 2017, AMR has intensified, compromising the efficacy of many modern antibiotics.
  • WHO stresses the importance of strategic investments and interventions to tackle AMR and preserve the efficacy of current antibiotics.
  • These bacteria are categorized into three priority levels: critical, high, and medium.

Critical Priority Pathogens:

  • These are the most concerning pathogens because they are resistant to a wide range of antibiotics, making them difficult to treat. 
  • They pose a significant threat in hospitals, nursing homes, and among people who require devices such as ventilators and catheters.
  • Examples: Acinetobacter, Pseudomonas, and various Enterobacteriaceae (including Klebsiella, E. coli, Serratia, and Proteus). These can cause severe and often deadly infections such as bloodstream infections and pneumonia.

High Priority Pathogens

  • These pathogens are also becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics, but they are not yet as critical as those in the critical category. 
  • They cause a variety of diseases, including some that are common.
  • Examples: Salmonella Typhi (resistant to fluoroquinolones), Shigella spp. (resistant to fluoroquinolones), Enterococcus faecium (resistant to vancomycin), and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (resistant to carbapenems).

Medium Priority Pathogens

  • These pathogens are less resistant to antibiotics than those in the higher categories. 
  • However, they are still a concern because they can cause serious infections.

The specific pathogens on this list are not publicly available, but they likely include some bacteria that cause common infections such as urinary tract infections and pneumonia.

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