WHO Releases Updated Bacterial Priority Pathogens List 2024 to Combat Antimicrobial Resistance

May 21, 2024
The World Health Organization's updated list features 15 families of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, guiding the development of new treatments to combat antimicrobial resistance.

On May 17, the World Health Organization (WHO) released its updated Bacterial Priority Pathogens List (BPPL) 2024, featuring 15 families of antibiotic-resistant bacteria grouped into critical, high, and medium categories for prioritization. The list provides guidance on the development of new and necessary treatments to stop the spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

AMR occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites no longer respond to medicines, making people sicker and increasing the risk of disease spread, illness and deaths. AMR is driven in large part by the misuse and overuse of antimicrobials. The updated BPPL incorporates new evidence and expert insights to guide research and development (R&D) for new antibiotics and promote international coordination to foster innovation.

The BPPL 2024 saw the removal of five pathogen-antibiotic combinations that were included in BPPL 2017, and the addition of four new combinations. The fact that third-generation cephalosporin-resistant Enterobacterales are listed as a standalone item within the critical priority category emphasizes their burden and need for targeted interventions, especially in low- and middle-income countries.

The WHO BPPL 2024 includes the following bacteria:

Critical priority:

  • Acinetobacter baumannii, carbapenem-resistant;
  • Enterobacterales, third-generation cephalosporin-resistant; and
  • Enterobacterales, carbapenem-resistant;
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis, rifampicin-resistant (included after an independent analysis with parallel tailored criteria, and subsequent application of an adapted multi-criteria decision analysis matrix).  

High priority:

  • Salmonella Typhi, fluoroquinolone-resistant
  • Shigella spp., fluoroquinolone-resistant
  • Enterococcus faecium, vancomycin-resistant
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa, carbapenem-resistant
  • Non-typhoidal Salmonella, fluoroquinolone-resistant
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae, third-generation cephalosporin- and/or fluoroquinolone-resistant
  • Staphylococcus aureus, methicillin-resistant

Medium priority:

  • Group A streptococci, macrolide-resistant
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae, macrolide-resistant
  • Haemophilus influenzae, ampicillin-resistant
  • Group B streptococci, penicillin-resistant