Pharmacists have a critical role to play in helping stop the spread of antimicrobial resistance or antimicrobial resistance by dispensing antibiotics in a safe and rational manner and also spreading awareness about the dangers of inappropriate use. ReAct Asia Pacific arranged a seminar on "Antimicrobial Resistance and Antibiotic Use - The Role of Pharmacists" 15 November as part of the World Antibiotic Awareness Week activities in India.
Addressing a gathering of over 85 pharmacists at the Christian Medical College in Vellore, India, Dr Sujith Chandy, Head, ReAct Asia-Pacific said while pharmacy professionals faced many challenges in a developing country like India, they had a great responsibility in ensuring antibiotics remained effective for future generations.
“Resistant bacterial infection is a silent killer. It causes many deaths – but this is not reflected properly in mortality statistics as the documentation of such cases is very poor”
said Dr Chandy who spoke on how pharmacists could ensure good antibiotic stewardship.
Speaking on the occasion Satya Sivaraman, Communications Coordinator, ReAct Asia Pacific, said that new research on the human microbiome showed that many species of bacteria were beneficial for human beings and critical for their survival. Indisciriminate use of antibiotics, apart from inducing antimicrobial resistance, also damaged the ability of good bacteria to maintain various functions and processes in the human body, leading to various ailments.
“Greater public awareness about the basics of medicine, health and human body is essential to ensure rational use of antibiotics” he said.
Dr Philip Mathew, Consultant, ReAct Asia Pacific, explained the importance of providing clean water and efficient sanitation for preventing infectious diseases and curbing the need for use of antibiotics. The safe disposal of hospital waste and ensuring no antibiotic residues find their way into the environment he said are also very crucial to stop the spread of antimicrobial resistance.
India consumes the largest amount of antibiotics in the world
- According to a study published in the Lancet, in 2010, India was the largest consumer of antibiotics in the world with 12·9 ×10⁹ units followed by China with 10·0 ×10⁹ units and the USA was the third largest with 6·8 × 10⁹ units. These figures however do not include antibiotics consumption in the animal and food production sector
- A number of studies of prescribing practices among Indian physicians, over the years, show a very high rate of use of antibiotics. Hospital infection control policies are not in place in most healthcare facilities around the country.
- Widespread resistance to antibiotics means that infections that were once easily treatable can become deadly. According to some estimates 56 524 neonates die each year from bacteria resistant to first-line antibiotics in India.
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Laxminarayan R, Matsoso P, Pant S, et al. Access to effective antimicrobials: a worldwide challenge. Lancet 2016; 387: 168–75