WHO antibiotic guidance on Firstline is the result of years of work. This is a short explanation of why this work is so important, and acknowledges the keys supporters without whom this guidance would not be accessible in digital form.
Antimicrobial Resistance is a global health challenge that is directly responsible for over 1 million deaths each year, and is associated with 5 times that number. This is broadly equivalent to the death toll from HIV and malaria combined.
The spread of antimicrobial resistant pathogens is accelerated by the inappropriate prescription and use of antimicrobial medicines. Therefore it is vitally important that healthcare providers are empowered to prescribe antimicrobials appropriately.
Treating infections is extraordinarily complex. Healthcare providers must account for a multitude of factors including clinical presentation, microbiology, pharmacology, cost and more. Furthermore, these complex decisions usually need to be made by non-infectious disease specialists, without diagnostic results, and sometimes in a medical emergency.
To stop the spread of AMR, the world’s healthcare providers need quick access to expert guidance that makes it simple to prescribe antimicrobials appropriately.
The WHO has provided guidance since 1977 on which medicines are essential for safe and effective care, but not on how they should be used. In a new step, the AWaRe Antibiotic Book provides detailed evidence-based guidance on 34 common infections in primary health care and hospital settings for adults and children.
Following the principles of AWaRe for the 39 antibiotics listed on the EML and EML for children, recommendations are given for empiric prescribing, including the choice of antibiotic, dose, and duration. Local specificities of the healthcare system, and prevalence of resistance among common pathogens causing infections should always be considered when using the book.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General WHO, address to Minister Champagne of ISED announcing AWaRe Antibiotic Book launch.
In addition to the full-length WHO AWaRe Antibiotic Book, there is a clear need for a quick-reference, user-friendly and portable resource for clinicians to carry while seeing patients.
Leveraging the ubiquity of smartphones globally, a mobile-optimized version of the guidance is available on Firstline to ensure equitable access for resource-limited nations and accessibility at the point of care, even with limited internet connectivity.
Dr Clive Ondari, WHO Director of Health Product Policy and Standards, World Health Organization
Firstline has received funding and ongoing support from across Canada that has significantly enabled partnering with the WHO and secured our commitment to global distribution of the WHO's guidance for years to come.
The Ministry of Innovation Science and Economic Development (ISED) has been instrumental in assisting Firstline. ISED supported and guided Firstline’s navigation of national governmental and intergovernmental processes, and is the parent organisation of the Digital Supercluster.
“This partnership between Firstline and the WHO is a major achievement for Canadian health innovation on the global stage,” said the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. “Access to the new gold standard guidance through Firstline will help millions of people by combatting AMR and making health care systems more efficient. I am proud that the Digital Technology Cluster was instrumental in the success of Firstline’s work, through research and development investment and partnership facilitation. The Global Innovation Clusters continue to catalyze and drive innovation in global health and beyond.”
The Digital Supercluster provided research and development funding to Firstline as part of a project aiming to accelerate the flow of clinical knowledge in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The novel technology created as part of this project will underpin the future of Firstline’s collaboration with the WHO. Enabling localization of the WHO’s global guidance, while continuing to receive WHO updates provides the best of all worlds - global clinical knowledge allied with local specificity. Like many of the best investors, the Supercluster’s commitment to Firstline extended beyond funding and they have been an essential advocate for, and supporter of Firstline. Firstline’s collaboration with the WHO would likely not have been possible without their support.
Financial support for this project was provided through the AMR One Health Consortium, funded by the Major Innovation Fund (MIF) program of the Ministry of Jobs, Economy and Innovation (JEI), Government of Alberta, and with partially matched funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). This peer-reviewed funding enabled a multidisciplinary team led by Dr. John Conly to collaborate with Firstline throughout its journey to define and design the implementation of the AWaRe classification, with a view to implementation in animal health guidance.