Today, a report on harmful fungi, commonly referred to as fungi pathogens, that can spread disease was released by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Research for fungal infections that are spreading
The study recommended that people pay closer attention to fungus that might be hazardous. It came up with a list of the 19 fungus that pose the biggest threat to society and the general public’s health. It is the first global effort to prioritise fungi pathogens and is known as the WHO fungal priority pathogens list (FPPL). The FPPL seeks to boost the global response to fungi infections by incorporating more research and regulations.
According to the WHO, fungal diseases are posing a hazard to healthcare and are progressively developing resistance to antifungal drugs. Extremely unwell individuals and people with underlying medical issues make up the majority of those who get fungal infections. The group also said that because of the Covid-19 epidemic and global warming, there has been an upsurge in fungal diseases.
A rise in fungal infections
Hospitalized patients had a rise in fungal infections during the pandemic, and the fungus become increasingly resistant to treatment. According to Dr. Hanan Balkhy, WHO Assistant Director-General for Antimicrobial Resistance, fungal diseases are on the rise and becoming a global public health problem as they emerge from the shadows of the bacterial antimicrobial resistance pandemic.
WHO intends to publicise these fungi-related illnesses so that more information on the pathogens may be acquired, enabling scientists to better understand their antifungal resistance.
Reasons for the report
WHO wants to publicise these fungal diseases so that more information about the pathogens can be gathered, allowing researchers to learn more about their antifungal resistance.
The organization wants the information to be directed at policy makers, public health researchers, healthcare providers, the pharmaceutical industry and research funders investing in the implementing of new antifungal drugs. However, WHO is also trying to reach out to the public to let people know how important it is to the challenges of treatability for fungal infections. He emphasizes the importance of knowing about dangerous fungal infections, noting that in 2020 there was no such prioritization of fungal threats globally.
Based on 10 assessment criteria provided by WHO, 19 pathogens were chosen.
Regional offices and the WHO Advisory Group FFPL helped to composed the list. Through the use of a discrete choice experiment (DCE) survey, the requirements for the list of pathogens were determined. It was necessary to have a sample of at least 300 researchers with training in either public health or medicine. Medical mycology societies—the area of biology that studies fungi—as well as social media platforms were used by WHO to find participants for the survey. There were 376 participants in all from different countries.
In a separate poll, the WHO employed best-worst (BW) scale to identify which fungi were the most harmful. There were 49 responders for this part of the report. The combined findings from the two surveys were used to create a ranking system that will help determine the need for future research and development as well as measures for managing and controlling the spread of harmful fungi.
Dr. Haileyesus Getahun, WHO Director, AMR Global Coordination Department, stated that “we need more data and information on fungal infections and antifungal resistance to guide and improve response to these priority fungal pathogens.”
Approach and findings from the survey
WHO has identified four key outcomes of the approach. First, the importance of public health in determining the priority of the classifications. ‘In addition to antifungal resistance, criteria related to disease burden (mortality, annual incidence & morbidity) were weighted for relative importance in the survey,’ the report states. The second finding was that antifungal resistance was the top priority based on the survey results, and third, systematic reviews revealed gaps in knowledge about the burden of fungal infections, meaning that disease burden data are not available for all 19 pathogens.Finally, the fact that fungal pathogens vary significantly by region shows the importance of studying these diseases to understand the differences in their prevalence.
The 19 fungal infections were classified into three categories based on the results of the survey and discussion under the WHO FPPL. The three groups listed were the critical group, the high group, and the medium group. The importance of the criteria in each group was ranked. The most important factor was antifungal resistance at 38.5% and the second most important factor was the number of deaths 13.9%. Generally, the fungal species at the top of the list are those most resistant to antifungal drugs and those that cause fatalities. Some of the critical groups of top concern for researchers include Cryptococcus neoformans, Aspergillus fumigatus, Candida auris & Candida albicans.
The report aims to educate readers on the growing threat that fungi may provide to the global community. In order to develop better treatments and halt the spread of the pathogens, WHO intends to promote more study on fungal infections.