Centre move on antimicrobial resistance a big step: Green body

The Centre’s recent move to come out with an action plan to tackle Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) is a “big” step to increase inter-agency cooperation to tackle the public health challenge, a green body said today. Around 11 ministries, including health, environment, agriculture and food and public distribution, had yesterday adopted the ‘Delhi Declaration’ and pledged to work on “mission mode” to develop a national action plan (NAP) to combat AMR.

The highlights of the NAP include conducting nationallevel surveillance of antibiotic resistance in humans, animal and the environment, surveillance of antibiotic use in humans and animals and monitoring of antibiotic residues in food animals and the environment. “The Delhi Declaration and India’s NAP on AMR is a big step in the right direction to increase inter-agency cooperation to tackle the public health challenge of AMR,” the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said.

AMR has become a global public health threat as antibiotics used to treat diseases, including common infections, are increasingly becoming ineffective. Misuse of antibiotics in human health and its misuse in food animal production such as in case of chicken, fish, dairy and honey compound the problem. In addition, AMR can also spread through waste from healthcare facilities, animal farms, animal food processing units and pharmaceutical manufacturing units.

The CSE said the declaration is a much-needed coordinated move to combat AMR and the NAP is “comprehensive and ambitious” and reflects the much-needed multi-stakeholder approach. “The NAP on AMR is ambitious, comprehensive and multi- sectoral. We now need to ensure its effective implementation through sustained political will, multi-ministerial involvement, funding support from the government and suitable state-level action plans,” said Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general of the CSE.

The CSE said that the NAP’s success, however, would depend on national-level programmes to support small-scale animal farms, a new AMR-centric approach to manage waste from animal farms, animal food processing and pharmaceutical manufacturing sector and health care facilities. “There is a global momentum to address AMR. With a high load of infectious diseases and the existing poor state of sanitation, hygiene and waste management, India cannot afford any more delays on this critical issue. “There is an imperative to institutionalise an approach which is aggressive enough to tackle this problem,” said Amit Khurana, head, food safety programme, CSE, who was part of the team that developed the plan.

The highlights of the NAP on animal and environmental aspects include restricting and phasing out of nontherapeutic use of antibiotics in food animals, such as antibiotic use as growth promoter and in disease prevention. It also includes restricting and regulating feed and feed premix containing antibiotics, eliminating use of critically important antimicrobials for humans in food animals and regulating availability of antibiotics in bulk and those sold online, including feed and feed premix. The NAP also envisages reducing environmental spread of AMR through necessary laws and surveillance of waste from animal farms, animal food processing, pharmaceutical sector and health care facilities and introducing programmes to support small and mid-size animal farmers to help them reduce antibiotic use among others.

Briefing the reporters after an inter-ministerial meeting on AMR yesterday during which the declaration was adopted, Health Minister J P Nadda had said strategies will be worked out to promote rational use of antibiotics among people, animal, PTI Science Service May 01-15, 2017 5 food and agriculture sectors, besides curbing their use for boosting growth in animals. “Antimicrobial resistance is a serious threat to global public health that requires action across all government sectors. Single, isolated interventions have limited impact and coordinated action is required to minimise the emergence and spread of AMR,” Nadda had said.

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