Antibacterial drugs are overused and often inappropriately selected. This exacerbates drug resistance and exacts a high burden from acute respiratory tract, bloodstream, sexually-transmitted, diarrheal and other infections. Appropriate use of existing diagnostic tests, and developing better ones, could avert these costs and would avoid selective pressure from unnecessary antibacterial use. Product profiles of resistance-averting tests would specify WHO 'ASSURED' (Affordable, Sensitive, Specific, User-friendly, Rapid and Robust, Equipment-free and Deliverable) criteria and request susceptibility as well as etiological information. Advances in genomics, nanoscience, microfluidics and bioengineering, as well as innovative funding paradigms can help to overcome research and development barriers for such diagnostics if they are deliberately and forcefully applied. Rapid uptake of new tests requires timely translation of research on cost-benefit analyses into policy, value-based subsidies and reimbursements, as well as behavioral change of health care providers and users.
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