Antibiotic resistance a new public health threat

Antibiotic resistance a new public health threat

Six states account for more than 90% of resistant cases

Antibiotic resistance a new public health threat

Widespread resistance against antibiotics, including some of the most potent ones, poses a simmering public health threat, according to India’s first long-term nationwide study on rising resistance against antimicrobial medicines.

Six Indian states, Delhi and Karnataka included, account for more than 90% of the resistant cases, says the survey. Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and West Bengal are other four states with high drug-resistant cases.

The study analysed 1,35,268 blood cultures collected between 2008 and 2014 from all over the country and found almost 14% of the samples – 18,695 to be exact – carry drug resistant bugs, which are extremely difficult to treat. The blood samples were tested for one of the 10 disease-causing microbes widely seen in the medical field. Many of these microbes have stopped responding to even last-resort antibiotics like carbapenem, colistin and vancomycin.

“Increased antibiotic use has long been directly linked to higher rates of antibiotic resistance. With the highest volume of antibiotic sales in 2010, it is not surprising that India has a simmering public health crisis related to antibiotic resistance,” a group of public health researchers, who carried out the analysis reported in the International Journal of Infectious Disease. The alarming results come out days ahead of a special session at the United Nations General Assembly on September 21 when national leaders, doctors, medical researchers and non-governmental organisations would discuss antibiotic resistance as an emerging major public health crisis.

Almost three years ago, the Union Health Ministry came out with an official order asking the pharmacists to sell the most potent antibiotics only against prescription and maintain a separate register. But since then there is little action on the ground.

“The policy made a nice balance between access to antibiotics and curbing the sale of most powerful antibiotics, whose abuse leads to resistance. But it was poorly enforced,” health economist Ramanan Laxminarayanan who led the study from the Public Health Foundation of India told DH.

Resistance to carbapenems, a last-resort class of antibiotics has been found higher in India than in any other country.

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