Today's Clinical Lab - News, Editorial and Products for the Clinical Laboratory
A vector illustration of a set of bottles, tablets, pills, capsules, and sprays for illness with a shield blocking the pathogens in the background.
Antimicrobial resistance arises when bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites mutate over time and turn unresponsive to antimicrobial medicines making infections harder to treat.
iStock, Abscent84

WHO Publishes Medically Important Antimicrobials List for Humans

The WHO MIA List supports the optimized use of antimicrobial medicines in human health

World Health Organization
Published:Feb 12, 2024
|2 min read
Register for free to listen to this article
Listen with Speechify

Responsible and prudent use of antimicrobials needs to be improved in all sectors—human, animal, plant/crop, and the environment—to preserve their public health benefits. In particular, antimicrobials that are medically important for human medicine need to be preserved by reducing their use in the non-human sectors. The WHO List of Medically Important Antimicrobials (WHO MIA List) for human medicine is a risk management tool that can be used to support decision-making to minimize the impact of antimicrobial use in non-human sectors on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in humans. 

The WHO MIA List is created to guide international, national, and subnational (local, state, provincial) antimicrobial stewardship efforts. It complements the WHO AWaRe (Access, Watch, Reserve) framework and the antibiotic book, which guide the appropriate use of essential antibiotics within the human health sector.

The List categorizes antimicrobial classes based on their importance for human medicine and according to the AMR risk and potential human health implications of their use in non-human sectors: critically important, highly important, and important to human medicine. The publication is intended to serve as a reference tool to support decision-making by national regulators and policymakers in ministries of health and agriculture, authorities responsible for regulating, monitoring, and assuring the responsible and prudent use of antimicrobials, and professional prescribers in different sectors.

The WHO MIA List was developed in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), and the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) as a joint effort to harmonize and align related guidance and lists developed by the four organizations. Best practice statements included in the document are aligned with the position of the Quadripartite organizations (FAO, UNEP, WHO, and WOAH) and are critical to preserving the effectiveness of the agents in the WHO MIA List. Further work is ongoing to harmonize guidance on the prudent use of antimicrobials across all four organizations.

AMR remains one of the top global public health threats facing humanity and was associated with the death of close to 5 million people globally in 2019. AMR occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites mutate over time and no longer respond to antimicrobial medicines making infections harder to treat and increasing the risk of disease spread, severity, and morbidity. As a result, antimicrobial medicines become ineffective and infections persist in the body, increasing the risk of transmission to others. 

- This press release was originally published on the World Health Organization website