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Government to curb antibiotics abuse to combat drug resistance

Posted by : Varun Doshi

On : 07 September 2015

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The government may soon issue restrictions on prescription and sale of commonly used antibiotics in an attempt to avoid development of drug resistance to infectious diseases like tuberculosis, malaria, urinary tract infection and even HIV. 

This means doctors and chemists will have to follow certain mandatory protocols and guidelines while prescribing antibiotics. For instance, chemists will have to maintain records of all kinds of antibiotics that they procure and sell along with the doctor's prescription. 

The move is part of the new global strategy, adopted by all member countries of the World Health Organization, to fight drug-resistant diseases. 

Faced with the scary prospect of losing lives to simple infections in the future, India is finally waking up to the dangers of reckless antibiotic use. 

Indian Medical Association has asked fellow practitioners to avoid unnecessary prescriptions such as recommending antibiotics for patients with fever and cold which are generally caused by viral infections. 

Several researches, including those conducted by WHO in India, have revealed that over-the-counter sale and purchase of antibiotics is rampant in the country. There is also lack of knowledge about the exact use of each antibiotic among physicians.

Disease causing microorganisms have evolved at a higher speed than drug development. If we don't check overuse of existing antibiotics, we will hit a dead-end soon.

Health experts say no new groups of antibiotics have been developed since the 1990s. "Carbapenem is the last group of antibiotics developed worldwide. There have been modifications to the available antibiotics but no new drug has come up. This is despite an increase in drug-resistant microorganisms.

The medical fraternity in Europe has been observing antibiotic awareness day since year 2008. Public health experts say it is good that India has woken up to the need finally. The burden of bacterial diseases in India is among the highest in the world. A large population is immune-compromised on account of diseases such as diabetes, heart diseases and cancer. These people are at higher risk of infection. Preservation of high-end antibiotics should be of utmost importance here.

The guidelines, part of a national action plan on anti-microbial resistance, will present a blueprint with specific norms for doctors, chemists and patients. 

Currently, over 700,000 deaths each year are attributed to drug resistance. In India, an additional two million lives can be lost by 2050 due to drug resistance. 

For instance, while India accounts for the highest number of tuberculosis cases, it is also the hub of multi-drug resistant (MDR) tuberculosis. Out of the estimated global annual incidence of 9 million tuberculosis cases, India accounts for 2.3 million.

Apart from the standard protocol, WHO's global plan sets out five key objectives — improve awareness and understanding of anti-microbial resistance, strengthen surveillance and research, reduce incidence of infection, optimize use of anti-microbial medicines, and ensure sustainable investment in countering antimicrobial resistance. 

 

(Source: TOI,  Image source: www.petitionbuzz.com)

 

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