Drug resistance

Surveillance of antimicrobial resistance

Surveillance of antimicrobial resistance tracks changes in microbial populations, permits the early detection of resistant strains of public health importance, and supports the prompt notification and investigation of outbreaks. Surveillance findings are needed to inform clinical therapy decisions, to guide policy recommendations, and to assess the impact of resistance containment interventions.

Types of surveillance

Appropriate strategies for surveillance of antimicrobial resistance should reflect identified scientific or public health objectives, resources and available technical capacity for testing, and sustainability. A combination of complementary approaches is often desirable.

Alert organism tracking

the identification, confirmation, and communication of specific organisms of great public health importance, such as vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or extensively drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Enhanced routine surveillance

the active review, interpretation, confirmation, and investigation of results generated in the course of routine clinical care

Targeted surveys

one-time or periodic study protocols to address specific scientific or public policy needs not adequately addressed by routine diagnostic test results.

The role of the microbiology laboratory

A key partner is the microbiology laboratory. Healthcare workers and public health authorities rely on the work and expertise of laboratory staff to determine:

  • what organism is causing a patient infection
  • what antimicrobials would be effective treatment options

The WHO Global strategy for containment of antimicrobial resistance identifies the establishment and support of microbiology laboratories as a fundamental priority in guiding and assessing intervention efforts. This requires trained and motivated laboratory professionals, materials and equipment, mechanisms for assuring the quality of test performance, and communication with clinicians and public health authorities.

Software for surveillance of antimicrobial resistance

  • WHONET
    Software for the management and analysis of microbiology laboratory test results with a focus on antimicrobial susceptibility test results
  • SDRTB4
    Surveillance of Drug Resistance in Tuberculosis Version 4.0

Surveillance of antimicrobial use and antimicrobial resistance

Antimicrobial resistance surveillance is enhanced when linked to monitoring of antimicrobial use practices. The collaborative efforts of the European Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System and the European Surveillance of Antimicrobial Consumption program have demonstrated that the integrated monitoring of resistance, use, and costs can prove the crucial factor driving political commitment to successful resistance containment campaigns.

Guidelines

Surveillance reports