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AWaRe- a WHO tool for safer use of antibiotics

Topics covered:

  1. Issues related to health.


AWaRe- a WHO tool for safer use of antibiotics

What to study?

For prelims: about AWaRe and it’s key features.

For mains: antibiotic resistance, causes, effects and concerns.


Context: WHO launches tool for safer use of antibiotics, curb resistance- AWaRe.


About AWaRe:

It is an online tool aimed at guiding policy-makers and health workers to use antibiotics safely and more effectively.

The tool, known as ‘AWaRe’, classifies antibiotics into three groups:

  1. Access  — antibiotics used to treat the most common and serious infections.
  2. Watch   — antibiotics available at all times in the healthcare system.
  3. Reserve — antibiotics to be used sparingly or preserved and used only as a last resort.



  • Antibiotic resistance is already one of the biggest health risks and is estimated to kill 50 million by 2050 worldwide.
  • The threat continues to escalate globally because more than 50 per cent of antibiotics in many countries are used inappropriately such as for treatment of viruses when they only treat bacterial infections or use of the wrong (broader spectrum) antibiotic.
  • Besides, reduced access to effective and appropriate antibiotics in many low- and middle-income countries contributes to childhood deaths and lack of funding and implementation of national plans to tackle antimicrobial resistance.


Factors underlying the problem:

The factors underlying the problem of suboptimal antibiotic use are complex, but include, among others, lack of knowledge and awareness of the problem by prescribers and the public, diagnostic uncertainty due to limitations of actual diagnostic tests and insufficient diagnostic capacities, lack of access to evidence-based treatment guidelines taking into account local epidemiology, lack of access to data reflecting the quality of antibiotic prescribing and use, preference for dispensing large spectrum antibiotics even when narrow spectrum alternatives are available).


Need of the hour:

With the emergence of infections that are untreatable by all classes of antibiotics, antimicrobial resistance has become “an invisible pandemic”.

In the absence of development of new drugs, “we must safeguard these precious last-line antibiotics to ensure we can still treat and prevent serious infections”.


Sources: down to earth.