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International Forum of Experts Urge Policy Makers and Global Health Organizations to Improve Antimicrobial Resistance; Global Thought Leaders Announce Call for Concerted International Efforts in the Fight Against Resistance.

SAN DIEGO -- Leading experts from around the world convened today to urge policy-makers and healthcare professionals to improve professional and consumer antibiotic resistance education. Representatives from the International Forum on Antibiotic Resistance (IFAR) and leading health organisations evaluated current global and national educational programmes and identified the need for vast improvements in research and measurement of professional and consumer educational programmes as a prelude to the 42nd Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC), 27-30 September 2002, San Diego, Calif., USA.

The panel urged health organizations and policy makers to develop and implement a global strategy for education concerning appropriate use of antibiotics. Early and sustained education for professionals and consumers was identified as a critical imperative for future programmes. Additionally, models for educational programmes that evaluate both health outcomes and decreased resistance are emerging as key drivers of success and behavioural change.

"While successful educational initiatives have been implemented, few are based on robust methodology -- yet early information indicates that they are clearly effective in changing patterns of prescribing," explained Prof. Roger G. Finch, President of ESCMID and Professor of Infectious Diseases, The City Hospital and University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK. "Policy makers need to work with national organisations to improve education in the fight against resistance -- one of the single most important health concerns of modern times."

Representatives from around the world including the Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA), the European Society for Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ESCMID), and the International Society for Infectious Diseases (ISID) with the participation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were in attendance to share individual perspectives and to identify elements of programmes that work in education professionals and consumers.

"Despite numerous international and national recommendations for resistance control, few large-scale interventions have been implemented and audited and little has been accomplished in the fight against resistant bacteria," explained Prof. Finch. "It is the responsibility of physicians and their patients to be informed and preserve the medicines we have for treatment now and for future generations."

In response, IFAR has published a 'Global White Paper on Bacterial Resistance in Respiratory Tract Infections' to help focus on what needs to be achieved to tackle the ever-increasing problem of antimicrobial resistance. The Global White Paper, published in current issue of Clinical Microbiology and Infection is the first publication of the International Forum for Antibiotic Resistance (IFAR), a multi-disciplinary group of world-renowned experts from six continents including infectious disease specialists, microbiologists, epidemiologists and the International Alliance of Patients Organisations (IAPO).

"Resistant bacteria do not recognise national boundaries," added Prof. Finch, co-editor of the paper. "The Global White Paper offers a model for a focused, sustained, multifaceted approach to resistance control around the world, while highlighting key components of successful actions, including the need for new therapies to help tackle resistant bacteria."

Community-acquired respiratory tract infections (RTIs) are a major public health concern in terms of morbidity, mortality, and costs. For example, lower RTIs (e.g. pneumonia) are the leading cause of death in developing regions and the fourth leading cause of death in developed regions. Over the last decade, there has been a rapid increase in resistance to antibiotics among virtually all common bacteria, such as Streptococcus pneumoniae, that cause community-acquired RTIs. One surveillance study, involving 23 countries worldwide, showed that 40 percent of Streptococcus pneumoniae isolates from patients with RTIs were resistant to penicillin* and 28 percent were resistant to macrolides**. This demonstrates that many existing antimicrobials are becoming increasingly ineffective against even the most common causes of infections.
 Key actions that the Global White Paper calls for include:
 -- Robust, uniform, global resistance surveillance research and studies to
 quantify the true impact of resistance on the health of patients with
 community-acquired RTIs
 -- Consideration by organizations responsible for resistance control of
 the factors driving bacterial resistance, including antibiotic use
 -- Education regarding the significance of resistance and optimal
 antibiotic usage for RTIs
 -- Patient involvement in measures to control resistance and development
 of more convenient, patient-friendly antibiotic regimens
 * Indexed as having intermediate penicillin resistance
 (minimum inhibitory concentration 0.12-1.0mg/L) or resistant (minimum
 inhibitory concentration > 2.0mg/L).
 ** Indexed as having erythromycin resistance (>1 mg/L)


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CONTACT: Maura Bergen for International Forum on Antibiotic Resistance, +1-917-334-0903

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