WHO’s first release of surveillance data on antibiotic resistance reveals high levels of resistance to a number of serious bacterial infections in both high- and low-income countries.
In October 2015, WHO launched the Global Antimicrobial Surveillance System (GLASS) working closely with WHO Collaborating Centres and existing antimicrobial resistance surveillance networks and based on the experience of other WHO surveillance programmes. GLASS report reveals widespread occurrence of antibiotic resistance among 500 000 people with suspected bacterial infections across 22 countries.
The most commonly reported resistant bacteria were Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Staphylococcus aureus, and Streptococcus pneumoniae, followed by Salmonella spp. The system does not include data on resistance of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which causes tuberculosis (TB), as WHO has been tracking it since 1994 and providing annual updates in the Global tuberculosis report.
To date, 52 countries (25 high-income, 20 middle-income and 7 low-income countries) are enrolled in WHO’s Global Antimicrobial Surveillance System. For the first report, 40 countries provided information about their national surveillance systems and 22 countries also provided data on levels of antibiotic resistance. Data presented in this first GLASS report vary widely in quality and completeness. Some countries face major challenges in building their national surveillance systems, including a lack of personnel, funds and infrastructure.
“The report confirms the serious situation of antibiotic resistance worldwide,” says Dr Marc Sprenger, director of WHO’s Antimicrobial Resistance Secretariat.
However, WHO is supporting more countries to set up national antimicrobial resistance surveillance systems that can produce reliable, meaningful data. GLASS is helping to standardize the way that countries collect data and enable a more complete picture about antimicrobial resistance patterns and trends.