Geneva 25th October 2022: The World Health Organization issued its first ‘Fungal Pathogen Priority List’ with Candida, Aspergillus and Cryptococcus listed as ‘critical. The report also highlights 15 other fungal pathogens needing attention. The report’s aim is to accelerate research and policy interventions and strengthen the global response to fungal infections, especially those with antifungal resistance.

Fungal diseases kill over 1.6 million people each year and cause long term disease in hundreds of millions more. The ‘Critical’ fungi at the top of the WHO list were the common Candida albicans and Aspergillus fumigatus, together with Cryptococcus neoformans which causes meningitis and the multi-drug resistant Candida auris. Antifungal resistance is an increasing problem in these 4 fungi, but also in many others on the ‘High’ and ‘Medium’ priority lists. The report also highlights diagnostic and surveillance needs.

The scope of WHO’s report was to: “focus on fungal pathogens responsible for acute and subacute systemic fungal infections for which drug resistance or other treatability and management challenges exist. The pathogens included are all associated with serious risks of mortality and/or morbidity.”

The WHO recommends three key broad areas for action:

  • improved surveillance of fungal diseases (which requires regular access to diagnostics),
  • targeted support for R&D and innovation (new antifungal drugs, improved diagnostics)
  • enhanced health systems (to ensure access to diagnosis, resistance detection and therapy, including a major uplift in training).

The report also recommends universal access to Essential diagnostic tests and Essential antifungal agents.

The WHO AMR Division was responsible for co-ordinating and writing the report, with expert support from the University of Sydney and an international Expert Advisory Group led by Dr Ana Alastruey-Izquierdo (Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Spain).

Read the full WHO press release

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Wall Street Journal
New York Times
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The HealthSite
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Jordan News

The Daily Telegraph