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Prioritizing antibiotic-resistant diseases for the World Health Organization

Prioritizing antibiotic-resistant diseases for WHO

Infectious diseases are increasingly resistant to antibiotics, and so there is an urgent need globally for new treatments to be developed. If new and effective antibiotics are not available soon, tens of millions of people could die each year.

The World Health Organization (WHO) used 1000minds with experts in infectious diseases from around the world to create a Priority Pathogens List of antibiotic-resistant bacteria posing the greatest threats to human health.

This list is used to guide research and development (R&D) into new antibiotics worldwide.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control also used 1000minds in a similar way to prioritize infectious disease threats.

25 antibiotic-resistant phenotypes prioritized

10 criteria for assessing priority

74 expert participants

The WHO’s objective is “the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health”.

Towards this end, the Priority Pathogens List of antibiotic-resistant bacteria created using 1000minds is used to guide R&D into new antibiotics and to facilitate global coordination. This R&D is conducted by pharmaceutical companies, universities and public research institutions around the world.

About the World Health Organization

Established in 1948 and headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, the WHO is the specialized United Nations agency responsible for international public health.

Antibiotics to treat or prevent bacterial infections have had a huge impact on human health (and animal health too) in the last century. Unfortunately, however, bacteria are becoming increasingly antibiotic-resistant. Tens of millions of people could die each year if new antibiotics are not developed.

In 2016, the WHO was requested by its 194 member states to prioritize antibiotic-resistant bacteria posing the greatest threats to human health.

The challenge

The development of new drugs is very expensive and time-consuming. Therefore, researchers need guidance as to which antibiotic-resistant bacteria they should target first.

Because the purpose of Priority Pathogens List created using 1000minds was for prioritizing and co-ordinating R&D into new antibiotics, researchers needed to be able to trust the list’s accuracy. Many people would die if the list was inaccurate and the ‘wrong’ diseases were targeted.

But what criteria should be used for prioritizing infectious diseases for R&D, and what is their relative importance?

And how can the many experts in infectious diseases from around the world be actively involved in the prioritization process?

The solution

1000minds was used to survey and aggregate the preferences of 74 infectious-diseases experts from around the world. Led by a team of academics and WHO staff, the experts worked online together and individually, as appropriate.

Ten criteria (e.g. mortality, healthcare burden, etc) for prioritizing 25 antibiotic-resistant phenotypes were developed and applied to create the Priority Pathogens List of antibiotic-resistant bacteria posing the greatest threats to human health.

The results

The WHO’s Priority Pathogens List represents the knowledge and subjective preferences of the experts involved in the prioritization exercise.

The experts were able to trust the list’s accuracy because of the validity and reliability of 1000minds’ tools and processes, especially the award-winning PAPRIKA method at the heart of 1000minds.

The list has been widely publicized and has had a major impact on R&D priorities with respect to the search for new and effective antibiotics.

Conclusion

The WHO’s Priority Pathogens List is used to guide research into new antibiotics for treating antibiotic-resistant infectious diseases.

WHO has regularly used the list to analyze antibiotics in the R&D pipeline. Nearly all public funders, private investors and new funding mechanisms have utilized the list to inform their R&D investment decisions.

The list has also emerged as a powerful tool for increasing awareness of anti-microbial resistance, informing infectious-disease prevention and control interventions and anti-microbial stewardship guidance.

The WHO project’s success inspired the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control also to use 1000minds to prioritize infectious disease threats. Other WHO prioritization projects based on 1000minds are also underway.

This body of work is fully documented in the following peer-reviewed articles and reports.

Articles and reports

About the use of 1000minds to prioritize infectious diseases for R&D.