National Action Plan to Combat Antimicrobial Resistance

IAS Prelims 2023

Antimicrobial resistance is an important concern for the public health authorities at global level. However, in developing countries like India, recent hospital and some community based data showed increase in burden of antimicrobial resistance.

Research related to antimicrobial use, determinants and development of antimicrobial resistance, regional variation and interventional strategies according to the existing health care situation in each country is a big challenge.

There exists lacunae in the structure and functioning of public health care delivery system with regard to quantification of the problem and various determining factors related to antimicrobial resistance.

There is an urgent need to develop and strengthen antimicrobial policy, standard treatment guidelines, national plan for containment of AMR and research related to public health aspects of AMR at community and hospital level in India.

Mr. J P Nadda, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare announced the finalization of India’s comprehensive and multi-sectoral National Action Plan.

He also signed a ‘Delhi Declaration’ for collectively strategizing to contain AMR.

It pledges to adopt a holistic and collaborative approach towards prevention and containment of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in India.

It calls on all stakeholders including UN, WHO, FAO and other UN agencies, civil society organizations etc., to support the development and implementation of the national and state action plans on AMR.

In alignment with global action plan, India’s action plan has objectives of enhancing awareness, strengthening surveillance, improving rational use of antibiotics, reducing infections and promoting research.

In addition, India aims to support neighbouring countries in collective fight against infectious diseases.

Health Ministry has taken a lead in this effort at international fora and has initiated series of actions including setting up a National Surveillance System for AMR, enacted regulations (Schedule-H-1) to regulate sale of antibiotics, brought out National Guidelines for use of antibiotics etc.

What is antimicrobial resistance?

Antimicrobial resistance happens when microorganisms (such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites) change when they are exposed to antimicrobial drugs (such as antibiotics, antifungals, antivirals, antimalarials, and anthelmintics). Microorganisms that develop antimicrobial resistance are sometimes referred to as “superbugs”.

As a result, the medicines become ineffective and infections persist in the body, increasing the risk of spread to others.

Why is antimicrobial resistance a global concern?

New resistance mechanisms are emerging and spreading globally, threatening our ability to treat common infectious diseases, resulting in prolonged illness, disability, and death.

Without effective antimicrobials for prevention and treatment of infections, medical procedures such as organ transplantation, cancer chemotherapy, diabetes management and major surgery (for example, caesarean sections or hip replacements) become very high risk.

Antimicrobial resistance increases the cost of health care with lengthier stays in hospitals and more intensive care required.

Antimicrobial resistance is putting the gains of the Millennium Development Goals at risk and endangers achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

What accelerates the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance?

Antimicrobial resistance occurs naturally over time, usually through genetic changes. However, the misuse and overuse of antimicrobials is accelerating this process. In many places, antibiotics are overused and misused in people and animals, and often given without professional oversight. Examples of misuse include when they are taken by people with viral infections like colds and flu, and when they are given as growth promoters in animals and fish.

Antimicrobial resistant-microbes are found in people, animals, food, and the environment (in water, soil and air). They can spread between people and animals, and from person to person. Poor infection control, inadequate sanitary conditions and inappropriate food-handling encourage the spread of antimicrobial resistance.