India finalises national action plan on antimicrobial resistance

Thursday 20 April 2017

The government terms antimicrobial resistance as a serious threat to global public health

Ministers unveil the National Action Plan on AMR (Credit: PIB)

India has finalised its National Action Plan to combat antimicrobial resistance (AMR), announced the Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, J P Nadda, on April 19. Nadda said the government is ready with a blueprint which meets global expectations and that AMR needs to be addressed comprehensively under the “One Health Approach”.

Other ministers present at the meeting were Ram Vila Paswan, Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Anil Madhav Dave, Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and Anupriya Patel, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare. The ministers also signed a “Delhi Declaration” to strategise collectively on AMR, which calls on the World Health Organization (WHO) and Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations to help implement the national and state action plans on AMR. 

A draft national action plan prepared by the National Centre for Disease Control, under MoHFW was released in March 2017. It called for surveillance of antibiotic use in humans and animals and surveillance of antibiotic resistance in humans, animals and environment. In 2015, the WHO released a global action plan on AMR and passed a resolution urging member countries to develop national action plans by May 2017.

Underlining the efficient implementation of the action plan as a challenge, Nadda spoke of the need for a coordinated approach on all levels of antibiotic use.

Amit Khurana, senior manager of the Food Safety and Toxins Programme at Centre for Science and Environment concurred. He said, “It is a significant step in India’s fight against AMR. It is a comprehensive and ambitious plan. The effective implementation of the plan requires multi-ministerial involvement and it is necessary to focus on both animal and environment dimensions of AMR.”

CSE has been working to limit the misuse of antibiotics in food-animals since 2014. The non-profit released a study in 2014 highlighting the presence of antibiotic residues in chicken meat and the rampant misuse of antibiotics in the poultry industry. In 2016, CSE also revealed antibiotic misuse in aquaculture in West Bengal.

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Debate: Are we prepared for `Resistance'?

Debate: Are we prepared for `Resistance'?

India is the largest consumer of antibiotics in the world; we use them indiscriminately and this leads to antimicrobial resistance (AMR). In this condition a microbe becomes resistant to commonly used antibiotics, thus making them ineffective in treating patients. It is feared by 2050, AMR will claim 10 million lives globally. The pipeline of antibiotics is fast drying up; no new molecule has been reported since 1987. In accordance with the World Health Organization's Global Action Plan on AMR, India is formulating its own action plan. But the challenges are enormous—inadequate surveillance leading to poor data collection of patients and even poorer enforcement of guidelines, among others. Karnika Bahuguna speaks to experts to understand the magnitude of the problem and strategies to overcome an overwhelming public health crisis

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