The Joint FAO/OIE/WHO Experts, Geneva 2003
- The consequences of antimicrobial resistance are particularly severe when pathogens are resistant to antimicrobials critically important in humans
- An expert clinical medical group appointed by WHO define the antimicrobials that are considered critically important in humans
WHO initiated its work in this area through the organization of an expert consultation in Canberra in 2005 with the overall scope to develop a list of critically important antimicrobial agents for human medicine (WHO, 2005). The resulting WHO list of Critically Important Antimicrobials has subsequently been re-examined and updated every two years Copenhagen (2007 and 2009) and Oslo (2011).
There are many serious infections in people (including enteric infections) where there are few or no alternate antimicrobials that can be used if antimicrobial resistance develops. Antimicrobial classes could be classified as critically important when the drug is in a class that is the only available therapy or one of a limited number of drugs available to treat serious human disease or enteric pathogens that cause foodborne disease.
This prioritization resulted in the designation of the classes for which comprehensive risk management strategies are needed most urgently: quinolones, 3rd/4th generation cephalosporins and macrolides. However the prioritization of these three classes of drugs should not minimize the importance of other drugs categorized as critically important on the list.
For more information on the WHO list of Critically Important Antimicrobials (CIA) see: http://www.who.int/foodborne_disease/resistance/cia/en/
The OIE (World Health Organisation for Animal Health) has issued this list of antimicrobials of veterinary importance (pdf)