WHO fungal priority pathogens list (WHO FPPL)

The WHO fungal priority pathogens list (WHO FPPL) was released recently.

What is the WHO fungal priority pathogens list (WHO FPPL)?

The WHO FPPL is the first-ever list of fungi that are recognized as “priority pathogens”. It contains a catalog of 19 fungi that are considered to be the greatest public health threat. The FPPL is the first global effort to systematically prioritize fungal pathogens, with consideration to the unmet research and development requirements and the perceived global public health importance. It aims to boost research and policy interventions to strengthen the international response to fungal infection and antifungal resistance.

How is the WHO FPPL list divided?

The WHO FPPL list is divided into three categories – critical, high, and medium priority. The fungal pathogens in each priority category are ranked based on their impact on public health and/or emerging antifungal resistance risk. This list must be interpreted and contextualized since some of these fungi’s threats differ based on regional or local contexts.

Why are fungal pathogens a global threat?

Fungal pathogens are increasingly becoming a threat to public health as they are becoming more common and highly resistant to treatment. Currently, only four classes of antifungal medicines are available, and very few new ones are currently being tested. Rapid and sensitive diagnostic tools are absent for most of the fungal pathogens. Invasive forms of fungal pathogens are severely affecting immunocompromised people like patients suffering from cancer, HIV/AIDS, chronic respiratory disease, and post-primary tuberculosis infection and organ transplant. Currently, incidences and geographical range of fungal diseases are expanding because of global warming and the rapid growth of international travel and trade. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the instances of fungal infection because of the increase in hospitalization. Along with these challenges, there is an increase in cases of antifungal resistance.

Why is there a lack of quality data on fungal diseases?

Despite the growing instances of fungal infections and antifungal resistance, little attention and resources are allocated to respond to them. This has resulted in the scarcity of data on fungal disease distribution and antifungal resistance patterns. Thus, the burden of fungal diseases and antifungal resistance is not known and the required government response is absent.

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