31 July, 2020
12 Min Read
Antibiotic resistance analysis (RS TV)
GS-PAPER-3 Health (PT-MAINS)
Antibiotics are life saving medicines. But these very same medicines can threaten our lives, if used indiscriminately. Already, seven lakh people around the world die due to drug-resistant diseases each year. And if no radical changes are made, these drug-resistant diseases could kill 10 million people a year by 2050.
It is an online tool aimed at guiding policy-makers and health workers to use antibiotics safely and more effectively.
The tool, known as ‘AWaRe’, classifies antibiotics into three groups:
What is antibiotic resistance?
Antibiotics are medicine used to treat infections caused by bacteria. Antibiotic Resistance refers to resistance developed by bacteria against antibiotics or the ability of bacteria to mutate or change so as to resist the effects of antibiotics. The more we use them, and the more we abuse them, the less effective they become.
Antibiotics are unquestionably useful against bacterial infections. However, indiscriminate use has resulted in development of resistance in patients with bacterial infections thereby leading to long lasting illnesses.
Thanks to that annoying thing called evolution, bacteria are constantly adapting to counter-attack antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance is one of the most significant threats to patients’ safety. It is driven by overusing antibiotics and prescribing them inappropriately.
Therefore, rational use of antibiotics is essential in order to minimize antibiotic resistance.
Antimicrobial Resistance in India
AMR is of particular concern in developing nations, including India, where the burden of infectious disease is high and healthcare spending is low. The country has among the highest bacterial disease burden in the world. Antibiotics, therefore, have a critical role in limiting morbidity and mortality in the country. The 2015 WHO multi-country survey revealed widespread public misunderstanding about antibiotic usage and resistance.
This tussle — between increasing antibiotic use among those who really need them, and decreasing misuse among the irresponsible — has kept India from imposing blanket bans on the non-prescription sale of these drugs.
When policymakers did propose such a ban in 2011, it was met with strong opposition. Instead, India turned to fine-edged tools such as the Schedule H1, a list of 24 critical antibiotics such as cephalosporins and carbapenems, whose sale is tightly controlled.
How can we prevent antibiotic resistant infections?
It is important to understand that, although they are very useful drugs, antibiotics designed for bacterial infections are not useful for viral infections such as a cold, cough, or the flu.
Why is antibiotic resistance one of the biggest health challenges:-
Excessive use of medicines in poultry:-
Unregulated sale of the drugs for human or animal use accessed without prescriptionor diagnosis has led to unchecked consumption and misuse. Of tested birds destined for meat consumption, 87% had the super germs based on a study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
The mutated robust microbe strain can invade the body and cause diseases that are difficult to treat. Even mild infections require stronger dosage. Annual healthcare cost due to antibiotic resistanceis estimated to be as high as $20 billion, with an additional productivity loss of up to $35 billion in the US.
Poultry:- Ban the use of antibiotics for growth promotion and mass disease prevention. It should only be used to cure the sick animals based on prescription of veterinarians. There is a need to introduce a labelling system wherein poultry raised without use of antibiotics should be labelled through reliable certified schemes to facilitate consumer choice.
Rationalizing antibiotic use to limit antibiotic resistance in India. Improving regulation of drug production and sale. Encouraging behavior change among doctors and patients are of immediate priority.
Regulation of the medical sector, particularly in the prescription of medicines. Improved management of the health care delivery systems, both public and private, will minimize conditions favourable for the development of drug resistance.
Improved awareness of antimicrobial resistance through effective communication. WHO’s World Antibiotic Awareness Week is one such event. Reducing the incidence of infection through effective infection prevention and control. As stated by WHO, making infection prevention and hand hygiene a national policy priority.
Discourage non-therapeutic use of antimicrobial agents in veterinary, agriculture and fishery practices as growth-promoting agents. Promoting investments for antimicrobial resistance activities, research and innovations Strengthening India’s commitment and collaborations on antimicrobial resistance at international, national and sub-national levels. Regulate the release of antibiotic waste from pharmaceutical production facilities and monitoring antibiotic residues in wastewater.
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