Excess use of antibiotics may cause health crisis in India: Expert

HYDERABAD: Indiscriminate use of antibiotics during Covid-19 has added to the problem of antimicrobial resistance in the country making it difficult to meet the goals of eradication of tuberculosis by 2025.

Experts state that secondary infections due to the indiscriminate use of antibiotics will add to an estimated 10 million deaths. This will also lead to the problems of repeated hospitalizations and burden the family economically.

Prof. N.K. Ganguly, former director-general of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), states that it will be the next big public health crisis in India. AMR accounts for 30 per cent of deaths among newborn babies due to sepsis. The exact depth of the problem requires notification and tabulation of different pathogens that have developed resistance to medicines.

AMR occurs when disease-causing microbes like parasites, fungus, bacteria and viruses develop resistance against the drugs, which were once effectively used to neutralize them. Increased resistance is because the structure of the microbes is altered by prolonged exposure to various drugs, including antibiotics.

Tuberculosis causes up to five lakh deaths in India annually, which is the highest in the world. There are half a million cases of drug-resistant TB in the world and a majority of them are from India. This rifampicin-resistant TB is resistant to two most powerful drugs that help to treat the disease. Multi-drug resistant TB reporting is a challenge despite the vast network created in the country. India contributes to one-fourth cases of MDR-TB in the world.

Due to the pandemic, there was a 26 per cent decline in notification of tuberculosis from January to June 2020. The challenges continue as the drugs are not available or due to lack of transportation, financial crisis and other socio-economic problems these patients are not coming to the hospital as it was previously established with the network of healthcare workers. It has been noted that less than 60 per cent of those suffering from MDR-TB are fully cured.

Prof. Ganguly said, "We need to have a surveillance system for AMR and it must be recorded properly at the healthcare level. There is also a need to bring about behavioural change to limit the use of antibiotics. At the industry level, misuse of antibiotics in agriculture and livestock industry must be stopped."


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