After a gap of seven years, the World Health Organization (WHO) released its updated list of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which also provides guidance on the development of new and necessary treatments to curb the rising spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

During AMR infections, driven majorly by the misuse and overuse of antimicrobials, bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites no longer respond to medicines. It majorly affects the treatment of high-burden infections, such as tuberculosis, leading to severe illness and increased mortality rates.

The Bacterial Priority Pathogens List (BPPL) 2024 features 15 families of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that are grouped into critical, high, and medium categories for prioritization.

The new “list is key to guiding investment and grappling with the antibiotics pipeline and access crisis,” said Dr. Yukiko Nakatani, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Antimicrobial Resistance ad interim.

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“The threat of antimicrobial resistance has intensified, eroding the efficacy of numerous antibiotics and putting many of the gains of modern medicine at risk,” since the first list was released in 2017, Dr Yukiko added.

In the BPPL 2024, the WHO removed five pathogen-antibiotic combinations that were included in 2017 and added four new combinations.

The third-generation cephalosporin-resistant Enterobacterales are now listed as a standalone item within the critical priority category, while Carbapenem-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa (CRPA) infection moved from critical to high priority in BPPL 2024.

Further, the critical priority pathogens, such as gram-negative bacteria resistant to last-resort antibiotics, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis resistant to the antibiotic rifampicin, continue to present major global threats due to their high burden, and ability to resist treatment and spread resistance to other bacteria, the WHO said.

The BPPL 2024 also emphasizes the need for a comprehensive public health approach to addressing AMR, including universal access to quality and affordable measures for prevention, diagnosis, and appropriate treatment of infections.