The Health Ministry has chalked out an action plan and brought on board 10 other ministries to promote rational use of antibiotics in veterinary and food sector besides curbing their use for growth promotion in animals. As the per its National Action Plan, the ministry seeks to set up a surveillance system to check antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and also stop use of antibiotics for growth promotion and prophylaxis (control of infection) in animals. “The use of antibiotics for growth promotion has emerged in the wake of escalated livestock farming. Farm owners mix antibiotics in the feed given to animals to speed up their growth and also to control infections which leads to antimicrobial resistance in them.
“Further, when we drink their milk, have meat or even the poultry products, the strains of antibiotics get into our body and leading to antibiotic resistance in our body,” a health ministry official said. Antimicrobial resistance occurs when microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi and parasites develop a resistance to antimicrobial drugs like antibiotics, antifungals, antivirals, antimalarials, and anthelmintics. Microorganisms that develop antimicrobial resistance are sometimes referred to as “superbugs”. As a result, the medicines become ineffective and infections persist in the body, increasing the risk of spread to others.
The ministries which will work together on this issue include Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, AYUSH, Chemicals and Fertilizers, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Environment and Science and Technology. Union Health Minister J P Nadda will chair a high-level inter-ministerial consultation on antimicrobial resistance on April 19 with all the ministries concerned. “The action plan is aimed at establishing regulations for use of antibiotics in humans as well as in veterinary and food sector and also for effluent treatment to safeguard the environment,” the official said.
“Uncontrolled use of anitbiotics in human as well as in veterinary and increased use of antibiotics as growth promoters in animals along with inadequate implementation of regulations for schedule H1 and schedule X drugs in humans are major challenges before us,” the official said.