Supporting diagnostic strategies to avoid the inappropriate use of antibiotics and other medicines, to help fight antimicrobial resistance
Fever is one of the most common symptoms of illness around the world, whether from bacterial, viral or other causes.
Antibiotics are effective for bacterial infections, but they do nothing for viral infections. However, studies are finding major increases in the use of antibiotics by people who do not have a confirmed bacterial infection.
In some countries, an increase in antibiotics use is associated with the greater use of rapid diagnostic tests for malaria, long thought to be the most common cause of fever in malaria-endemic countries. When a malaria test is negative, some health-care workers go on to prescribe antibiotics to patients who present with fever, on the assumption that the infection is likely bacterial if it is not malaria. And in countries where antibiotics are available over the counter, people can easily self-medicate without a confirmed diagnosis.
The inappropriate use of antibiotics – around the world, not only in malaria-endemic countries – is fuelling the rapid development of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) globally, and it is reducing the effectiveness of the few treatment options we have for severe bacterial illness.
Working together to find a simple diagnostic solution
A simple, rapid, point-of-care test to quickly distinguish between bacterial and non-bacterial or viral infections could significantly reduce the inappropriate use of antibiotics by guiding health-care workers towards appropriate treatment. This would help to preserve the life-saving power of the world’s limited arsenal of these important drugs and help to ensure that people who are seriously ill get the treatment they really need.
In September 2015, FIND partnered with WHO, ReAct and the MSF Access Campaign to gather together more than 50 stakeholders representing the full “bench to bedside” pathway for biomarker testing to differentiate between bacterial and viral pathogens. Participants agreed on the urgency of accelerating the development and validation of new tests, and they made a plan for rapid action, which is already well underway.