Standardizing Terminology Important For Effective Global Response To Drug Resistance

Nature: Antibiotic resistance has a language problem
Marc Mendelson, professor of infectious diseases and head of the Division of Infectious Diseases & HIV Medicine at Groote Schuur Hospital at the University of Cape Town, and colleagues

“…Many of the terms routinely used to describe [antimicrobial resistance] are misunderstood, interpreted differently, or loaded with unhelpful connotations. On 16 March, the United Nations formed an interagency group to coordinate the fight against drug resistance. We urge that, as one of its first steps, this group coordinate a review of the terminology used by key actors. Such an effort could improve understanding across the board and help to engender a consistent and focused global response. … Because terminology has geographic, disciplinary, and societal variations that affect understanding and interpretation, a program of research is needed to optimize the lexicon across different countries and languages. Such a program could be undertaken within the current WHO global action plan objective 1 — to improve awareness and understanding of drug resistance through effective communication, education, and training. … [G]iven the gravity of what’s ahead, now is the time consider the power of words to change the course of events…” (5/3).

The KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report summarized news and information on global health policy from hundreds of sources, from May 2009 through December 2020. All summaries are archived and available via search.

KFF Headquarters: 185 Berry St., Suite 2000, San Francisco, CA 94107 | Phone 650-854-9400
Washington Offices and Barbara Jordan Conference Center: 1330 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005 | Phone 202-347-5270 | Email Alerts: | |

The independent source for health policy research, polling, and news, KFF is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.