The World Health Organisation (WHO) has released the first-ever priority pathogen list — which includes 19 fungi — to identify fungi which pose the greatest threat to public health.
GS-2 Health, International Relations
Dimensions of the Article:
- WHO’s first-ever Fungal Priority Pathogen List
- Reason for the rise in fungal infections
- Strategy recommended by WHO
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- World Health Assembly (WHA)
WHO’s first-ever Fungal Priority Pathogen List:
- The WHO fungal priority pathogens list (FPPL) is the first global effort to systematically prioritize fungal pathogens, considering the unmet research and development (R&D) needs and the perceived public health importance.
- The list takes precedence from the bacterial priority pathogens list, first established by WHO in 2017 with a similar focus to galvanise global attention and action.
- This classification is based on the pathogen’s public health impact or emerging antifungal resistance risk. The WHO urges a geography-wise close reading of these lists is key for assessing and tackling the threat.
- The list has been divided into three categories — critical, high and medium priority:
- The list’s publication is opportune as fungi are becoming an increasingly common threat to public health.
Reason for the rise in fungal infections:
- Global warming and increasing international travel and trade are fuelling this rise. The COVID-19 pandemic saw an increase in mucormycosis or black fungus.
- Currently, only a few treatment candidates are being tested and just four classes of antifungal medicines are available.
- Poor diagnostic systems further compound the situation.
- These factors are especially concerning for the at-risk population — those with comorbidities — such as patients with cancer, HIV/AIDS, organ transplants, chronic respiratory disease and post-primary tuberculosis infection.
- However, with a wide geographic spread resulting in more incidents, resistance to treatment is also on the rise.
Strategy recommended by WHO:
- Emerging from the shadows of the bacterial antimicrobial resistance pandemic, there is a rise in the number of fungal infections and the consequent rise in the resistance to treatments is becoming a public health concern worldwide.
- The strategy includes:
- Strengthening laboratory capacity and surveillance.
- Sustaining investments in research, development and innovation
- Enhancing public health interventions for prevention and control.
World Health Organization (WHO)
- The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health.
- It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
- Its main objective is ensuring “the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health.”
- The WHO’s broad mandate includes advocating for universal healthcare, monitoring public health risks, coordinating responses to health emergencies, and promoting human health and well-being.
- The World Health Assembly (WHA), composed of representatives from all 194 member states, serves as the agency’s supreme decision-making body.
World Health Assembly (WHA)
- The World Health Assembly is the decision-making body of WHO.
- It is attended by delegations from all WHO Member States and focuses on a specific health agenda prepared by the Executive Board.
- The Health Assembly is held annually in Geneva, Switzerland (sometimes in special sessions).
The main functions of the World Health Assembly are:
- To determine the policies of the Organization
- Appoint the Director-General
- Supervise financial policies
- Review and approve the proposed programme budget.
- Reporting to the Economic and Social Council in accordance with any agreement between the Organization and the United Nations.
The Health Assembly is composed of delegates representing Member States.
- Each Member State is represented by not more than three delegates, one of whom is designated by the Member as chief delegate.
- These delegates are chosen from among persons most qualified by their technical competence in the field of health, preferably representing the national health administration of the Member.
-Source: Down to Earth