Big, Loom­ing Headache

India Today - - UPFRONT - By Da­mayanti Datta

It’s one of the chief threats to hu­man health. If unchecked, com­mon in­fec­tions and mi­nor in­juries, treat­able for decades, can once again kill. For the past 20 years, the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion has been sound­ing out the alarm on the ris­ing men­ace of an­tibi­otic re­sis­tance (ABR) across the world and in In­dia.

ABR snuffs out 100,000 lives in Amer­ica, 80,000 in China and 25,000 in Europe a year on av­er­age. What about In­dia? Al­though one of the world’s big­gest con­sumers of an­tibi­otics, In­dia does not keep records. Piece­meal stud­ies point to an alarm­ing rise. One such is a new re­port—the largest ever—pub­lished last week in En­vi­ron­men­tal Health Per­spec­tives, by re­searchers from the Wash­ing­ton-based Cen­ter for Disease Dy­nam­ics, Eco­nom­ics & Pol­icy (CDDEP) and the Pub­lic Health Foun­da­tion of In­dia, Delhi. Con­ducted across 18 poul­try farms in Pun­jab, each rais­ing about 50,000 birds, the study shows un­reg­u­lated use of an­tibi­otics and emer­gence of bac­te­ria re­sis­tant to peni­cillin and cephalosporin (needed in res­pi­ra­tory, skin and kid­ney dis­eases) in two-thirds of the birds des­tined for meat con­sump­tion.

Lead re­searcher, and one of the few eco­nomic epi­demi­ol­o­gists to study ABR growth in In­dia, CDDEP di­rec­tor Ra­manan Laxmi­narayan has cau­tioned about the risk the coun­try runs with­out any mech­a­nism for na­tion­wide surveil­lance and mon­i­tor­ing of ve­teri­nary an­tibi­otic

Il­lus­tra­tion by ANIRBAN GHOSH

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