Press release |

MSF urges better diagnostics, education to address antimicrobial resistance threat

Photography by Vivian Lee
MSF134504

Geneva/Paris/Brussels, 16 November 2015 — Monday 16 to Sunday 22 November is World Antibiotic Awareness Week. Médecins Sans Frontières is working in several contexts where antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is present at a worrying rate. MSF is urging for the development and rollout of rapid, easy-to-use diagnostic tests to help medical staff determine if a person's fever is caused by bacteria or a virus; for better regulation and training; and for better education of people on when and how to use antibiotics appropriately.

MSF issues the following quotes:

“In the age of the superbugs, we need to throw everything we can at stopping the alarming spread of antibiotic resistance. Accurate, rapid and easy-to-use diagnostic tests are urgently needed to help health workers identify on the spot whether someone with a fever has a bacterial or viral infection, and therefore whether they need antibiotics or not.

“An effective fever diagnostic could dramatically lower the number of people being given antibiotics unnecessarily. If we want to stop the spread of resistance to the antibiotics we have today and those we hope to have in the future, we urgently need to speed up research and development of rapid diagnostics that can be used in all settings.”
- Dr Arlene Chua, Antimicrobial resistance and diagnostics advisor, MSF Access Campaign.    

“We have documented that antibiotic resistance is present in the population in Afghanistan at a worrying scale. From our surveys on antibiotic prescriptions and perception amongst patients, caretakers and health care providers, it is clear that we need to address the problem at several levels. Regulations on the availability of antibiotics in the community, and training of health workers on prescriptions according to evidence-based medicine protocols are needed at the health system level, while at the same time ensuring access to antibiotics to those who truly need them. Diagnostic tools that could help health care workers to make the right decision in prescribing are also lacking. At the community level, education is needed to increase the population's understanding on the appropriate use of antibiotics.”
– Dr Catherine Van Overloop, Medical Deputy Operational Coordinator, MSF.  

“Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is growing rapidly in low- and middle-income countries. Drug-resistant bacterial infections have been documented across MSF contexts in a diverse spectrum of patient groups. AMR directly threatens patient safety by compromising the effectiveness of current treatments, resulting in poor patient outcomes and increasing the risks linked with hospital-acquired infections.”
– Dr Rupa Kanapathipillai, Infectious Diseases Advisor, MSF.