Govt wants to limit use of antibiotics in animals

The government may have rejected the Lancet study, claiming the existence of antimicrobial-resistant superbug in Delhi groundwater, but its own paper in the form of a 'National policy for containment of antimicrobial resistance' indicates that it is concerned about the unregulated use of antibiotics.

Worried "that resistant forms of bacteria may spread from animals or the environment (groundwater/surface water/soil) to humans", the policy, uploaded on the National Centre for Disease Control website on Tuesday, recommends banning non-therapeutic usage of antibiotics in animals and farms.

According to experts, there is a scientific consensus that the use of antibiotics in livestock, on some occasions, has detrimental effect on human health. In India, the antibiotics are used widely in livestock as growth promoters and to prevent and treat infections. However, currently there is no regulatory provision regarding the use of antibiotics in livestock.

WHO too has concluded that there is sufficient evidence to show "the major transmission pathway for resistant bacteria is from food animals to humans" and has led to "increased frequency of treatment failure (in some cases deaths) and severity of infections". WHO called for stricter legislation to minimise antimicrobial usage in livestock as it may pose a significant risk to the human health.

The government is looking at colour coding of third-generation antibiotics and restricting their access to only tertiary hospitals. It is also considering giving special "incentives" to pharmacists "for not selling antibiotics without prescription and formulating an appropriate regulation for the same".

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