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Fungal infections are a global health risks: WHO

  • Category
    Science & Technology
  • Published
    28th Oct, 2022

Context

Recently, WHO published a report highlighting the first-ever list of fungal "Priority pathogens" – a catalogue of the 19 fungi that represent the greatest threat to public health.  

About

Highlights of the Report:

  • The WHO fungal priority pathogens list (FPPL) is the first global effort to systematically prioritize fungal pathogens, considering the unmet research and development (R&D)needs and the perceived public health importance.
  • The 19 Fungi identified as categorically as fungi of concern are mentioned in the table below.
  • Objective:The WHO FPPL aims to focus and drive further research and policy interventions to strengthen the global response to fungal infections and antifungal resistance.
  • Fungal pathogensare a major threat to public health as they are becoming increasingly common and resistant to treatment with only four classes of antifungal medicines currently available.

Anti-Fungal Medicines:

  • Antifungal drugs are medications that are used to treat fungal infections.
  • While most fungal infections affect areas such as the skin and nails, some can lead to more serious and potentially life-threatening conditions like meningitis or pneumonia.
  • According to the Report, most fungal pathogens lack rapid and sensitive diagnostics and those that exist are not widely available or affordable globally.
  • The invasive forms of these fungal infections often affect severely ill patients and those with significant underlying immune system-related conditions.
  • Populations at the greatest risk of invasive fungal infections include those with cancer, HIV/AIDS, organ transplants, chronic respiratory disease, and post-primary tuberculosis infection.
  • The WHO FPPL list is divided into three categories:
  • Critical,
  • High and
  • Medium priority.
  • The fungal pathogens in each priority category are so ranked primarily due to their public health impact and/or emerging antifungal resistance risk.

Fungal Infections:

There are many types of fungal infections. Some of the most common fungal infections are those of the skin, nails, and mucous membranes. Examples include:

  • Ringworm (also known as tinea): a fungal infection of the skin that can occur on your scalp, on your feet (athlete’s foot), in your groin area (jock itch), and on other areas of your body
  • Nail fungus: an infection that typically affects your toenails but can also affect your fingernails
  • Vaginal yeast infection: an infection that occurs due to the overgrowth of Candida yeast in and around the vagina
  • Oral thrush: a condition in which Candida yeast overgrows in your mouth.

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