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New WHO tools use behavioural Insights to help curb the spread of antimicrobial resistance

News |June 10, 2021|

WHO has released 3 documents that aim to strengthen efforts to tackle antimicrobial resistance (AMR) through a behavioural insights approach: the TAP Quick Guide, the TAP Toolbox and the TAP Process poster. A fourth document – the TAP Manual – will be available by the end of the year.

Antimicrobial agents, such as antibiotics, are essential to treat some human and animal diseases. However, the misuse and overuse of these drugs has led to microbes developing resistance to antimicrobials. As a result, the world is running out of effective antibiotics to treat infectious diseases.

“COVID-19 has contributed to changes in the way antibiotics are used across the WHO European Region. These new tools offer practical actions and measures to stop the spread of AMR, which is essential to saving lives and ensuring the continued usefulness of antibiotics, and is part of being responsible and effective practitioners and consumers,” said Dr Nino Berdzuli, Director of the Division of Country Health Programmes.


What is TAP?

AMR is a complex problem requiring unique, context-specific solutions. That is why WHO has created the Tailoring Antimicrobial Resistance Programmes (TAP) approach to help develop targeted interventions for AMR. Tailoring interventions towards the needs of specific groups (such as pharmacists, patients, prescribers and veterinarians) and contexts (such as communities, pharmacies and hospitals) can ensure that AMR interventions are effectively implemented and lead to positive behaviour change among populations.

The TAP Quick Guide provides a “how to” guide for rapid and practical application of the TAP approach. The TAP Toolbox contains key tools and templates for each stage of the TAP approach. The TAP Process poster provides a visual description of a step-by-step, practical approach to designing and implementing a targeted behaviour change intervention to address drivers of AMR.

This new set of TAP documents provides stakeholders working in the field of AMR with proven tools to identify and understand factors influencing AMR-related behaviour, and to design interventions tailored to their specific contexts. The documents aim to strengthen knowledge and evidence of behavioural enablers and barriers, directly helping reduce AMR incidence, and optimizing the use of medicine.


TAP in action

TAP is coordinated by WHO/Europe in close collaboration with Member States and national AMR experts. Pilot projects have already taken place in the United Kingdom (addressing the prescription behaviour of general practitioners) and Sweden (addressing migrants).

Projects are also underway in Hungary (addressing the prescription behaviour of general practitioners), North Macedonia (addressing infection prevention and control) and Kazakhstan (addressing over-the-counter sale of antibiotics). Projects in other Member States in the Region are currently under discussion.

“We have already engaged with several Member States in the Region on TAP projects over the years. Now with these new documents, we are looking forward to working with more Member States to reduce the threat that AMR poses,” said Dr Berdzuli.