Irrational use of antibiotics in farms - India battles drug resistance and disease burden

Drug ResistanceNew Delhi (ISJ) ? As India grapples with its huge disease burden and availability of quality drugs, public health experts have warned of a growing threat of antibiotic resistance due to irrational use of antibiotics in humans and animals.

Experts warn, large-scale use of antibiotics in farms for growth-promotion and disease prevention of animals is growing and is dangerous. According to Centre for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy (CDDEP), India has the highest burden of antibiotic resistance. In 2010, India had the highest consumption of antibiotics, while US had the third highest consumption.

At a conclave organised by Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) on antibiotic resistance, medical professionals have expressed concern over growing threat of antibiotic resistance, which leads to difficulty in treating common bacterial infections and post-surgery infections.

Key scientists from government and private sector, medical doctors -neonatologists, gastroenterologists, urologists, microbiologists and pharmacologists, veterinarians and those from public health and environmental field participated at the conclave.

?The concern of drug resistance is uppermost. We need to preserve the existing antibiotics since we cannot afford new expensive molecules whenever they come. It is more relevant for us than other nations to preserve the current antibiotics. The irrational use of antibiotics in human and animal use is going to put us in a huge quandary, and human health in particular is at stake,? said Dr Chand Wattal, Senior Consultant (Microbiology) at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in New Delhi.

Experts discussed gaps in India?s regulatory approach and preparedness to handle the looming public health crisis.

Expressing concern over the practice of non-therapeutic use by poultry farmers, Prof. N K Mahajan of Lala Lajpat Rai University of Veterinary & Animal Sciences, Hisar (Haryana) said, ?Judicious use of antibiotics will be in the interest of poultry farmers because they themselves are facing the problem. They keep on complaining that antibiotics are not working and keep on using more and more antibiotics. Farmers are unaware and need to be educated on biosecurity measures. Use of antibiotics in feed can be regulated through the drug regulators.?

G.Suryanarayan, an expert in the field of environment management of poultry farms, said, managing farm waste is important in containing resistance. ?Central Pollution Control Board should notify guidelines on environment management of poultry farms as early as possible.?

?We are changing the whole microbiota by irrational use of antibiotics. Children are born with resistance to certain antibiotics. This not only affects the treatment of infectious diseases but is also now being linked to other types of non-communicable diseases like obesity in the later part of their lives,? said Dr. Neelam Kler, Senior Consultant, Neonatology at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi.

According to CDDEP, the burden of antibiotic resistance in India is one third of approximately 190,000 deaths of children caused by sepsis, a bacterial infection that overwhelms the bloodstream. An estimated one million children die within the first week of life every year in India.

In 2010, CSE had done study on antibiotic residues in honey and in 2014 it has tested chicken meat for antibiotics.

Sources: CSE/CDDEP

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