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WHO updates 'Essential Medicines List' to counter drug-resistance in bacteria

World Health Organisation has added 10 antibiotics to the list for adults and 12 for children.
India TV Lifestyle Desk New Delhi June 07, 2017 14:17 IST
India TV Lifestyle Desk

World Health Organisation has recently had its biggest revision of the antibiotics section in the EML’s 40-year history. The WHO experts have categorized the antibiotics into three categories- Access, Watch and Reserve. It has also filed some recommendations on each category. The new categories by World Health Organisation apply only to antibiotics used to treat 21 most common general infections. If this is shown to be useful, then it could be broadened in the future versions of EML to apply to drugs to treat other infections. 

The changes are brought with a motive to ensure that antibiotics are available when the need arises and the right kind of antibiotic is prescribed for the right infections. It should improve the outcomes and reduce the development of drug-resistant bacteria. It will preserve the effectiveness of ‘last resort’ antibiotics. These changes are done in order to support WHO’s Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance, which intends to fight the development of drug resistance by ensuring the judicious use of antibiotics. Here is the detailed structure of each category. 


The antibiotics in the Access group should be available at all times as treatments for a wide range of common infections. For example, Amoxicillin is widely used for treating pneumonia. 

WATCH Group 

The Watch Group includes the antibiotics that are recommended as first or second-choice treatments for small number of infections. For example, ciprofloxacin use to cure cystitis and upper respiratory tract infections should be reduced to avoid development of drug-resistant diseases. 


The third group includes the antibiotics like colistin and cephalosporins which should be considered the last-resort for diseases. They should be used only when all the other alternatives have failed, for example, for life-threatening infections due to multi-drug resistant bacteria. 

World Health Organisation has added 10 antibiotics to the list for adults and 12 for children. 

"The rise in antibiotic resistance stems from how we are using – and misusing – these medicines," said Dr Suzanne Hill, Director of Essential Medicines and Health Products. 


"The new WHO list should help health system planners and prescribers ensure people who need antibiotics have access to them, and ensure they get the right one, so that the problem of resistance doesn’t get worse."