Drug-resistant Gonorrhoea on the Rise, WHO Warns

WHO's New Leadership TeamThe cases of drug-resistant gonorrhoea, a sexually transmitted disease, are on the rise in many parts of the world, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned. 

The agency added that it considers Neisseria gonorrhoea a “priority microorganism” to be monitored for antimicrobial resistance. 

The new WHO guidance on sexually transmitted infections (STIs) requires countries to work towards improving access to better testing and diagnostic services. 

“Early testing and diagnosis are key in stopping the spread of STIs,” Dr Teodora Wi, the lead for sexually transmitted infections of the WHO’s Global HIV, Hepatitis and STIs programmes, said. “When left untreated, certain STIs can lead to long-term irreversible outcomes and some can be potentially fatal.”

Countries like Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, France, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and several countries in Asia including China, Japan, Singapore and Vietnam, have reported cases of Neisseria gonorrhoea, a pathogen that is highly resistant to the antibiotic medication ceftriaxone.

“The enhanced gonorrhoea AMR surveillance (EGASP) suggests high rates of resistance in gonorrhoea to current treatment options such as ceftriaxone, cefixime and azithromycin in Cambodia, for instance,” the WHO said in a press release. 

Eighty two million new cases of N.gonorrhoea are being reported around the world every year in people between the ages of 15 and 49. 

“In addition, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in N. gonorrhoea is particularly problematic. With resistance to both cephalosporins, including third-generation extended-spectrum cephalosporins, and fluoroquinolones, N. gonorrhoea is a multidrug-resistant pathogen,” the WHO indicated, adding that the resistance observed in the pathogen outpaces the new antibiotics being developed for it. 

“WHO considers N. gonorrhoea to be a priority microorganism for AMR monitoring in the Global Antimicrobial Surveillance System and for drug development in the context of AMR.” 

The new guidance is also expected to help make STI testing more accessible and affordable to the masses, which will lead to better data collection, the WHO added. 

Image Credits: Flickr – Guilhem Vellut, Guilhem Vellut.

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