India has to cover lot of ground to tackle antibiotic resistance: CSE

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India’s action plan to tackle antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has made limited progress and it must beef up efforts including a clear roadmap to stop overuse of antibiotics and their misuse in animals that are important for humans, a Delhi-based research and advocacy body said Friday.

As the world observes the ‘World Antibiotic Awareness Week’ from November 12-18, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said by now laws and systems should have been in place to control use of antibiotics and a roadmap should have been finalised to phase out their use in animals that are important for humans.

It said a lot of ground should have been covered in strengthening laboratories, developing capacity and finalising mechanisms and modalities for nation-wide AMR surveillance in food, animals and environment sectors by now.

CSE, which undertook an assessment of India’s National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance (2017-21), called for stringent limits on antibiotic discharge in pharmaceutical effluents as well ad regulations and measures to ensure appropriate farm waste management, drug take-back and disposal.

“Even after a year and a half after India’s National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance (2017-21) came into being, there is at best limited progress on only a few critical activities to contain AMR from animal and environmental sources.

“Many of these were planned to be completed within a year. India is going to be heavily impacted by the AMR crisis and we cannot afford such delays,” said Chandra Bhushan, Deputy Director General, CSE.

The Indian action plan was released in April 2017 along with the Delhi Declaration on Antimicrobial Resistance’ endorsed by 12 stakeholder ministries.

The green body also sought greater clarity on costs involved, dedicated budget for AMR

and the status of National Authority for Containment of Antimicrobial Resistance, while urging states to come forward with their respective action plans as Kerala has done, saying without their active participation, implementation on the ground would be “impossible”.

Resistance to antibiotics is now recognised as a public health threat of an unprecedented scale. Common infections and diseases, which were earlier treatable, are now becoming difficult to treat and globally. It is expected to lead to a 3.8 per cent loss in GDP and 10 million deaths annually by 2050, CSE said.

Besides antibiotic use in human health, overuse and misuse of antibiotics in producing food from animals such as chicken meat, eggs, milk and fish is a key cause behind rising AMR.

India will be heavily impacted by it due to its huge burden of infectious diseases, large-scale food animal production using antibiotics, and inadequate healthcare systems, it said.

Many countries like those in the European Union have already set up the necessary regulatory frameworks to address antibiotic misuse in animals.

“India still does not have laws and systems to control use of antibiotic growth promoters in animal feed, or those which would help track the sale and use of antibiotics in food animals.

“All we have so far is a central government advisory, which cannot be enforced in states. What India also needs is a clear roadmap for two things one, to phase out use in animals of antibiotics which are critically important for humans, and two, to stop antibiotic misuse for mass disease prevention,” said Amit Khurana, programme director, food safety and toxins, CSE.

In March 2018, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) prepared a set of draft standards for antibiotic discharge in pharmaceutical industry effluents.

Khurana said at present, it is being reviewed by the environment ministry and “we expect stringent final standards to be set soon”.

“We have a lot of ground to cover towards strengthening laboratories, developing capacity, and finalising mechanisms and modalities for a nation-wide AMR surveillance in food, animals and environment,” said Rajeshwari Sinha, deputy programme manager, food safety and toxins, CSE.

He said the poultry farming guidelines of the CPCB need to be strengthened and made enforceable. “Extended producer responsibility should be introduced to ensure appropriate drug take-back and drug disposal,” Sinha added.

Source: Business Standard

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