A new standard has been developed that is designed to help healthcare providers across the globe in the battle against antimicrobial resistance.
Researchers from the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy (CDDEP) in India and the Universite de Lorraine in France knew that antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) programmes are already being introduced in some nations in order to ensure sustainable access to medicines in the long term, but they have so far been independent initiatives.
Now, they have defined a standardised set of actions aimed at preserving the efficacy of antimicrobials and limiting the emergence of superbugs.
The list includes seven core elements such as ensuring leadership from senior hospital management and having access to expertise on infection management, as well as a further 29 checklist-style elements describing minimum standards for AMS programmes in hospitals worldwide.
Importantly, the requirements are suitable for both high and low-income countries, meaning hospitals in developing countries will not be treated differently and should be subject to the same standards.
Professor Celine Pulcini, one of the experts involved with the definition of these standards, said the current lack of a universal plan for AMS has impeded the implementation of any such programmes so far.
"We hope this work will be useful to those who develop national stewardship guidelines in their respective countries. This is a consensus that is applicable around the world. Antimicrobial resistance is a global problem that needs global solutions, for the benefit of the patients and the greater good. All hospitals should be able to implement a set of essential AMS strategies."
The new consensus document involved 15 specialists from 13 countries and does resemble one produced by the US Centers of Diseases Control and Prevention, but it is more comprehensive and differs in its inclusion of low to middle-income nations.
Antimicrobial resistance is threatening the prevention and treatment of a growing range of infections caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi. It is listed by the World Health Organisation as a serious threat to public health that requires action across all sectors of society.
For example, almost 500,000 people developed multi-drug resistant tuberculosis worldwide in 2016, while resistance is also starting to impact the fight against malaria and HIV.
The WHO has called for coordinated action and national action plans, something this new set of standards for hospitals may help to work towards.