In a major decision towards curbing antimicrobial resistance, the Union Health Ministry has issued a directive asking all registered medical practitioners to mention the indication, reason, or justification for prescribing antibiotics. The Director General of Health Services (DGHS) has also urged all pharmacists to mandatorily dispense antibiotics with a valid prescription from a registered medical practitioner (RMP).
In a letter addressed to the medical associations, doctors at medical colleges, and pharmacist associations of India, Dr. Atul Goel, the Director General of Health Services, has appealed for the judicious use of antimicrobials to reduce the emergence of anti-microbial resistance (AMR).
According to the letter, the pharmacists have been asked to strictly implement Schedules H and H1 of the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules. The antibiotics and some high-end antibiotics are included in these schedules and are to be sold only on the prescription of a RMP. Further, they have been asked to stop the over-the-counter sale of antibiotics.
Dr. Goel addressed the medical colleges that serve as tertiary healthcare institutions as well as serve as a hub for future medical professionals to set an example of judicious use of antimicrobials for the future generation of doctors who are expected to face this crisis immensely.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), AMR is one of the top global health threats. Misuse and overuse of antimicrobials are two of the major reasons for the development of drug-resistant pathogens. The Union health ministry, in its letter, emphasized the imperativeness of the prudent use of antibiotics to delay the development of resistance.
The letter further states that 4.95 million deaths in 2019 were due to drug-resistant pathogens, and 1.27 million deaths in the same year were associated with bacterial AMR. The increased prevalence of AMR puts the benefits of modern medicine at risk and threatens the effective prevention and treatment of infections due to resistant pathogens. This further leads to prolonged illness, treatment failures, and mortality.
India is among the major countries with the highest rate of AMR worldwide. In a recent survey conducted by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) under the aegis of the Union Health Ministry, it was concluded that more than half of the antibiotics prescribed in the country cause AMR. Hence, it’s imperative that authorities undertake concrete measures to curb this growing menace.
(Inputs from various sources)
(Rehash/Dr. Sushmita Ganguli)