WHO Warned India Long Before
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10 September 2010
the efficacy of antibiotics Ampicillin, Gentamycin and Nitrofurantoin in treating E Coli infections.
It found that 41.7 per cent of the sample in Mumbai and 51.5 per cent in Delhi were resistant to Ampicillin, 2.5 per cent in Mumbai and 30.1 per cent in Delhi were resistant to Gentamycin and 25 per cent in Mumbai and 20.2 per cent in Delhi were resistant to Nitrofurantoin.
Doctors and health experts said the study showed there was excessive and even dubious use of antibiotics in India.
"The problem has long been a time bomb ticking away, but there is constant denial in acknowledging its presence," said Dr Chand Wattal, who steered the research at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, the site of the WHO study in Delhi.
The researchers add that with the spurt in infectious diseases in both Delhi and Mumbai, use of antibiotics has increased exponentially.
"The Health Ministry reacted strongly to the New Delhi Metallo–beta–lactamase (NDM–1), because foreigners caught the bug, which in turn instigated the references to medical tourism in India," said Dr Renuka Munshi, who monitored the statistics at BYL Nair Hospital, the study site in Mumbai. "We have approached WHO for funds to conduct a fresh study to enumerate antibiotic use."
Dr Ramanan Laxminarayan, Professor of Medicine at Princeton University and Project Director for the Global Antibiotic Resistance Partnership, said: "Resistance rates in India have been low compared to developed countries that have a much longer history of intensive antibiotic use. However, that picture is changing fast with high levels of resistance emerging in the metros, largely because of excessive antibiotic use."
The need for the inclusion of an antibiotic policy in the National Health Programme has been raised consistently by Dr Kathleen Holloway, the main author of the WHO study. While Holloway was not available for comment, her co–authors said they had submitted a fresh proposal about the need for an antibiotic policy to the Union Health Ministry along with the results of the WHO study.