Big, Looming Headache
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