GLASS report on antibiotic resistance levels worldwide

30 January 2018

Article: 52/405

On 29 January 2018, The World Health Organization (WHO) published its first release of surveillance data on antibiotic resistance which demonstrates high levels of resistance to a number of serious bacterial infections in both high- and low-income countries.

WHO’s new Global Antimicrobial Surveillance System (GLASS) 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. 

Among patients with suspected bloodstream infection, the proportion with bacteria resistant to at least one of the most commonly used antibiotics ranged dramatically between different countries, from zero to 82%. Resistance to penicillin, the medicine used for decades worldwide to treat pneumonia, ranged from zero to 51% among reporting countries, while between 8% to 65% of E. coli associated with urinary tract infections presented resistance to ciprofloxacin, an antibiotic commonly used to treat this condition.

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. 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.

Source: WHO News Release, 29 January 2018