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Antimicrobial resistance a major concern, say docs


Published on: July 7, 2022 | Updated on: July 7, 2022

octors in the city have expressed serious concern over the growth in antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and the risks connected with it. (DC file photo)

Hyderabad: Doctors in the city have expressed serious concern over the growth in antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and the risks connected with it for various reasons despite a study showing antimicrobial resistance (AMR) contributed to 12.7 lakh fatalities in 2019.

Speaking on the findings of a study titled ‘Global burden of bacterial antimicrobial resistance in 2019: A systematic analysis’, published in The Lancet journal, Dr. Ranga Reddy Burri, the head of the Infection Control Academy of India, claims that AMR would cause a considerably higher death toll than even the Covid pandemic, but the issue is still not getting the necessary attention. Antimicrobial resistance is the ability of microbes to attain the ability to survive even in the presence of drugs which have earlier been proved effective against them.

Telangana has seen instances of bacteria developing resistance to multiple antibodies and hence becoming ‘superbugs. Four such cases have been detected at the Kakatiya Medical College (KMC), Warangal. According to Dr Naresh M, an assistant professor at the KMC department of pulmonology, two such cases with bacteria resistant to 11 antibiotics were found in March. In both the cases, the cause was indiscriminate prescription of antibiotics without taking the patients’ consent.

"Two more cases were detected after that — one about two months ago and another about two weeks ago. Both patients were aged between 40 and 50 and had been directly prescribed higher antibiotics, which should be given at a much more serious stage of infections. The prescription was by a private hospital in one case, and by a rural medical practitioner (RMP) in the other," Dr Naresh said.

President of Healthcare Reforms Doctors Association (HRDA) Dr Mahesh Kumar said apart from indiscriminate prescription by doctors, there were other causes for AMR. These include patients not completing the full course of medicines prescribed to them, excessive use of antibiotics in animal husbandry, and indiscriminate prescriptions from quacks.

Dr. Ranga Reddy Burri asserted that even though AMR was a big problem, the emphasis remained more on identifying the problems than truly resolving them. He suggested three strategies for reducing AMR. First, create awareness at a population level and education at a professional level, including vets, conservationists, and people from the pharma industry.

"Second, find alternative diagnostics which will give real-time information about the target organism and perceptibility of antibiotics, so that doctors don’t need to go empirical about the treatment," he said. The third measure is popularisation of alternative therapies. "Currently, it’s either antibiotics or nothing. There are other therapies too, like phage therapy – which uses viruses to kill bacterial infections," Dr Ranga Reddy added.