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Critical-priority pathogens in India have more than 50 per cent resistance to half of the available antibiotics: Report

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To combat AMR, the report recommends modifying procurement practices, adding essential antimicrobials in state drug procurement lists

A new report released by the Indian School of Business’ Max Institute of Healthcare Management and the Center for Global Development calls on key stakeholders across national and regional governments to improve antimicrobial innovation, accessibility, and stewardship practices to combat Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) in India.

More than a million people die in India every year with a drug-resistant pathogen. Factors compounding AMR include the widespread overuse and misuse of antibiotics, both in hospitals and in the home.

While the National Action Plan on AMR launched by the government in 2017 attempts to address some of the issues, the plan lacks a focus on drug procurement, access, and stewardship practices. Moreover, at the state level, only four states—Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, New Delhi, and Andhra Pradesh­—have action plans to contain the spread of AMR.

Prof. Sarang Deo, Professor and Area Leader of Operations Management, Deputy Dean – Faculty and Research, and Executive Director, ISB Max Institute of Healthcare Management at the Indian School of Business said, “The National Action Plan for AMR emphasises uninterrupted access to high-quality antimicrobial medicines. However, one needs innovative and implementable solutions that achieve this without leading to the overuse of antibiotics. This is especially important for small- and medium-sized hospitals that are less likely to have strong stewardship programmes and do not have requisite economies of scale in their operations. Strengthening hospital accreditation that certifies good antimicrobial stewardship practices and creating pooled procurement system through a public-private partnership for high-end antimicrobials based on such accreditation systems is one such solution.”

To combat AMR, the report recommends modifying procurement practices, adding essential antimicrobials in state drug procurement lists, improving inter-state coordination, enhancing surveillance, and improving diagnostics facilities in hospitals.

It also calls for the creation of an innovation ecosystem for antimicrobial research and development which involves developing specific antimicrobials for the Indian context. This recommendation follows a key finding of the report which showed that critical-priority pathogens demonstrate more than 50 per cent resistance to over half of the available antimicrobials in the country, highlighting the urgent need for new antibiotics.

Javier Guzman, Senior Policy Fellow and Director of Global Health Policy, Center for Global Development, added, “The report identifies a host of policy recommendations that key stakeholders within central and state governments can implement through both the National Action Plan on AMR and state actions plans. If implemented correctly, these recommendations put India in a unique position to lead the world in the fight against AMR and vastly improve global health security.”