World Antibiotic Resistance Awareness Week: India has a grave need for antibiotic awareness

AMR occurs when bacteria develop the ability to defeat drugs which have been designed to kill them.

Antibiotic Resistance (AMR) occurs when bacteria develop the ability to defeat drugs which have been specifically designed to kill them. Infections caused by such resistant germs are very difficult and often impossible to treat and it can affect humans at all stages of life. AMR is occurring across the globe and is severely affecting the treatment of infectious diseases.

Even though antimicrobial resistance is a natural process, the misuse of antibiotics in humans and animals is accelerating the process. A large number of infections such as tuberculosis, pneumonia and gonorrhoea are becoming very difficult to treat since the antibiotics used for their treatment are becoming less effective.

Infections that become resistant to antibiotics are more impossible to be treated.

Infections that become resistant to antibiotics are more impossible to be treated.

Consuming antibiotics when you don’t need them speeds up the process of antibiotic resistance. Infections resistant to antibiotics are more complicated and almost impossible to be treated.  We all should be held responsible to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics by preventing the spread of infections and change the way in which these medications are used and prescribed in India. The World Health Organization is also coordinating a global campaign “Handle with care” to raise awareness and encourage best practices for antibiotic use.

In India, the government has launched a National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance (NAP-AMR) as well.

NAP-AMR 2017 – 2021

India's NAP- National Action Plan to combat Antimicrobial Resistance goes hand in hand with the World Health Organization's Global Action Plan (GAP) for AMR. The plan is very comprehensive and covers all the five major objectives listed in GAP along with one added objective to strengthen India's leadership on AMR. This plan aims to target all the human and non-human sectors affected by AMR. The target period to achieve these goals have been listed as short-term (ending within one year), medium-term (between one to three years) and long term (more than three years). Some of the strategic priorities of the plan have been mentioned below -

Priority 1 — This aims at raising and increasing awareness about antimicrobial resistance among the masses. This will be in the form of communication programs, a professional curriculum for the students (medical, veterinary and schools), campaigns, special programs etc.

Priority 2 — The objective is to strengthen the microbiology laboratories and establish standards for AMR surveillance in animals, humans, environment and food.

Priority 3 — This program aims at the proper implementation of Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) program. It also aims at improving the measures to access safe water, sanitation and hygiene.

Priority 4 — This priority aims at optimizing the use of antibiotics in all the sectors of society. Under this, a strict regulatory framework will be created for strict antibiotic use in the country.

Priorities 5 and 6 — Both these points deal with improving the infrastructure and promoting investment for research in the field of anti-microbial resistance. It also aims at boosting the drug discovery process of antibiotics in India.

 What is antibiotic stewardship? Why is it important?

Antibiotic stewardship refers to a set of strategies which aim at improving the use of antimicrobial medication with the goal of reducing antimicrobial resistance. Such stewardship is important to ensure the continued efficacy of antibiotics and improve patient's safety.

What can a common person do about antibiotic stewardship?

When it comes AMR, the major fault lays in the way people tend to use antibiotics. Combating AMR is not only a goal for the government but is required for the benefit of the society as well. We as individuals do have the responsibility to ensure that antibiotics are not misused. For this, some practices can be followed, such as not missing the antibiotic dose, if the has been prescribed for 3 days, it must be taken for 3 days even if the symptoms are relieved. Leaving the course of medicine in between may lead to the onset of infection again. Another thing is to stop taking antibiotics without prescription, doing so will help the doctors to assess the condition and prescribe an optimal dosage for the same.

Dr Binita Priyambada is a senior medical consultant at

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