WHO revises antibiotics protocol



Mains Paper 2: IR | Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate

The newscard is about the revised protocol of WHO on antibiotics. Few takeaways:

Prelims Level: Make note of the three categories into which the drugs have been listed.

Mains Level: There is not much content here for the Mains, but a few points that you might want to include in your answer.


  1. To curb antibiotic resistance, the World Health Organization (WHO) has divided the drugs into three categories- access, watch and reserve
  2. It specifies which are to be used for common ailments and which are to be kept for complicated diseases

The three categories

  1. Commonly used antibiotics will be available under ‘access’ category
  2. The second line of antibiotics, slightly more potent have been categorised under ‘watch’
  3. Potent drugs to be used only as a last resort now fall under the ‘reserve’ category

Why the rising antibiotic resistance? It stems from how we are using and misusing these medicines

How will the list help? It will ensure that people who need antibiotics have access to them, and ensure they get the right one



  1. The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialised agency of the United Nations
  2. It is concerned with international public health
  3. It was established on 7 April 1948, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland
  4. The WHO is a member of the United Nations Development Group
  5. Its predecessor was, the Health Organization, which was an agency of the League of Nations

Its working ambit

  1. Since its creation, it has played a leading role in the eradication of smallpox
  2. Its current priorities include communicable diseases, in particular HIV/AIDS, Ebola, malaria and tuberculosis
  3. It mitigates the effects of non-communicable diseases
  4. It is concerned about sexual and reproductive health, development, and ageing
  5. Nutrition, food security and healthy eating are also its concern areas
  6. Occupational health, substance abuse and driving the development of reporting, publications, and networking is yet another

Publication: The WHO is responsible for the World Health Report, the worldwide World Health Survey and World Health Day

U.S. nixed India’s plea on reforms in medicine

  1. What? A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) response has revealed that the United States government had opposed including agenda items proposed by India, which aimed at reforming medical innovation that currently pump up drug prices to unaffordable levels
  2. Proposals: The Indian government — along with 11 South East Asian countries — had proposed a discussion on an ‘Access to Medicines’ report by the United Nations High Level Panel
  3. It had recommended reforms in the funding of biomedical research and development
  4. Opposition: However, the set of documents released by Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), a not for profit organisation that gives technical advice to governments, reveals that both the United States and the WHO opposed including the proposal by India
  5. The delays by WHO to place the UN HLP recommendations on the agenda of the WHO’s EB and subsequently at the World Health Assembly have drawn widespread criticism from Asian civil society organisations
  6. The U.N. report: There is a need for an RD treaty and it recommended reforms in the area of biomedical R&D
  7. Policy incoherence: The U.N. Access to Medicines report had recommended solutions for remedying the policy incoherence between justifiable rights of inventors, trade rules and global public health targets
  8. The report recommended that governments and the private sector must refrain from explicit or implicit threats, tactics or strategies that undermine the right of WTO Members to use TRIPS flexibilities
  9. Criticism of US action: The U.S. government has a policy of blocking all reforms that would lead to funding the R&D system in a way that it prioritises diseases that kill million of people in the developing world
  10. The U.S. government is not just a member-state of WHO but also a big donor
  11. This is consistent with the U.S. policy to pressure countries like India to have more IP barriers while blocking all attempts at reforms


For prelims, just know about the issue broadly, countries involved, names of reports and institutions. The mains requires knowing few important aspects of the UN report, the opposition by US, WHO, criticism of action and if it was justified. All that is mentioned in the card.

WHO settles India, EU medicine dispute

  1. What: The WHO has dropped the term ‘counterfeit’ and retained ‘falsified’ to describe medicines of inferior quality
  2. Why: The terms were being used interchangeably to confiscate Indian made generic drugs exported to other countries
  3. Indian made drugs were being shown as violating intellectual property
  4. Nearly 20 shipments of generic drugs, including basic antibiotics and anti-retrovirals, were detained between 2008 and 2009
  5. This is also a significant victory for the global access to medicines campaign

WHO seeks special U.N. session on TB II

  1. India shoulders the highest burden of 2.2 million cases a year
  2. PM Narendra Modi held a high-level meeting on TB on yesterday
  3. The UNGA meeting on TB is a strategy copied from the HIV movement
  4. The member states had adopted a political declaration to fast-track progress in combating the HIV/AIDS epidemic

WHO seeks special U.N. session on TB I

  1. What: The WHO is calling for the first United Nations General Assembly on the deadly but curable infection
  2. Why: Frustrated with a lack of political will shown by nations with a high burden of tuberculosis
  3. Context: The development follows the release of the Global TB report
  4. In it the WHO had to significantly revise the global burden of TB after a 34 per cent increase in cases reported from India

India to lead global coalition to fight epidemics

  1. India is all set to lead the global fight against epidemics as it is a key member of the newly formed Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI)
  2. Headquarters at the Norwegian Institute for Public Health, in Oslo
  3. The coalition will not focus on diseases that already have sufficient attention, but will be guided by WHO’s R&D blueprint (2016)
  4. It lists eleven illnesses to focus on, including Chikungunya, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic fever
  5. Dr K Vijay Raghavan, secretary, Department of Biotechnology, India, has been chosen as the chairperson of the interim board

WHO report on doctors in India

  1. News: A World Health Organisation study titled ‘The Health Workforce in India’ has sounded alarm on the doctors in India, based on data from Census 2001
  2. Key findings: Almost one-third of those who claimed to be allopathic doctors in 2001 were educated only up to the secondary school level and 57% did not have any medical qualification
  3. The situation was far worse in rural India, where just 18.8% of allopathic doctors had a medical qualification
  4. Female healthcare workers were found to be more educated and medically qualified than their male counterparts
  5. India has 36 medically qualified doctors per lakh population and 6 medically qualified nurses and midwives per lakh population
  6. Solution: There should be more attempts from the government to curb quackery (promotion of fraudulent or ignorant medical practices)

WHO to go in for long-awaited reform

  1. Member states of the WHO have agreed a long-awaited reform establishing a new Health Emergencies Programme
  2. Aim: To responds more quickly and effectively to emergency situations such as disease outbreaks & health emergencies
  3. Background: WH was accused of having wasted months before declaring war on the Ebola virus in west Africa
  4. Funds: An increase of $160 million in the existing programme budget for emergencies for 2016-2017 was approved
  5. In total, the new programme will have $494 million for the 2016-2017 fiscal year

WHO certifies vaccine maker GreenSignal Bio

GreenSignal is the second Indian company to get PQP certification from WHO

  1. The WHO has accorded PQP (Pre-qualification of Medicines Programme) certification to the GreenSignal Bio Pharma Pvt. Ltd., a BCG vaccine-making firm
  2. The certification helps the company to participate in the global immunisation programme
  3. This is facilitated through international procurement agencies such as UNICEF
  4. These global institutions go by the WHO’s list of pre-qualified products
  5. While making a decision on procurement for medicines for distribution in resource-limited nations

Let’s know about Mammography?

  1. A mammogram is an x-ray picture of human breast which can be used to check for breast cancer in women who have no signs or symptoms of the disease
  2. Mammography is the type of mammogram
  3. WHO recommends mammography for women aged over 50
  4. There is scientific evidence that it is effective in reducing breast cancer mortality in women in the 50–69 age group
  5. It has gained popularity globally over the years with the rising incidence of breast cancer

Let’s know about IARC?

  1. The International Agency for Research on Cancer is the specialised cancer agency of the WHO
  2. Its objective is to promote international collaboration in cancer research
  3. It publishes handbooks for various cancer types and it is referred to by clinicians across the globe

No mammography needed for women under 50: WHO

  1. According to International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), mammography has limited efficacy in the younger age band
  2. There is a risk of false positive results, over-diagnosis, and possibly radiation-induced cancer
  3. The screening for breast cancer aims to reduce mortality and morbidity associated with the advanced stages of the disease
  4. Women in the lower age groups should continue to do breast self-examination and undergo a clinical breast examination once a year

WHO declares end to Ebola epidemic

Studies continue to uncover new information about how long Ebola can last in bodily fluids.

  1. The World Health Organisation declared an end to the deadliest Ebola outbreak ever after no new cases emerged in Liberia.
  2. Though health officials warn that it will be several more months before the world is considered free of the disease that claimed more than 11,300 lives over 2 years.
  3. Some 17,000 survivors are trying to resume their lives though many battle mysterious, lingering side effects.
  4. Liberia, which along with Sierra Leone and Guinea was an epicentre of the latest outbreak, was first declared free of the disease last May.
  5. There is still ongoing risk of re-emergence of the disease because of persistence of the virus in a proportion of survivors.

:( We are working on most probable questions. Do check back this section.

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