AntiMicrobial Resistance (AMR) is not merely a challenge or threat to health security but also has “serious economic consequences”, Health Minister J P Nadda said today, as he underlined the need for countries to promote rational use of drugs and “appropriately” regulate its sale.
Noting that countries are at various stages of economic development, Nadda said that prescribing uniform achievement objectives to combat AMR “must be” accompanied by sustained support with technological and financial resources through domestic, bilateral and multilateral channels.
“AMR is not merely a health challenge or a threat to health security, but is also a development challenge with significant and serious economic consequences.
“As we look forward to the UN High Level Meeting on AMR later this year, we should reaffirm existing commitments and focus on mobilizing the necessary resources for the implementation of AMR national action plans in all countries,” Nadda said in his address at the Asian Health Ministers meet on AMR in Tokyo.
Noting that the health challenges posed by AMR confront all countries including small and developing ones, Nadda said that increasing resistance of pathogens to currently available antibiotics can lead to a situation where advanced techniques and procedures in the field of surgery and medicine become “redundant and ineffective”.
“The multi-sectoral nature of AMR requires that all countries promote rational use of drugs, appropriately regulate the sale of drugs, promote the concept of ‘one health’ with control of anti-microbial use in human health, animal and agriculture sectors,” Nadda said.
He said that all countries should promote infection control practices and protocols, improve hygiene, sanitation and ensure availability of clean drinking water while also encouraging universal immunization for vaccine preventable diseases as appropriate in each country context.
He said countries should also encourage research and development and discovery of new drugs and ensure equitable and affordable access apart from enhancing capacity of health workforce and doctors and undertake campaigns for consumer awareness and to discourage self-medication of antibiotics.
Nadda said that the roadmap identified by India after the February conference in India lists five priority areas for developing and implementing the national action plan of AMR.
These include improving awareness and understanding of AMR, strengthening surveillance in human, animal and agricultural sectors, strengthening infection prevention and control practices in health facilities, promoting rational use of antimicrobials and promoting investment in AMR and related research, he said.
“Since different countries are at different stages of economic development, prescribing uniform achievement objectives for combating AMR must be accompanied by a sustained effort of supporting those in more need with human, technological and financial resources through domestic, bilateral and multilateral channels.
“Besides, we must also ensure that both existing and new antimicrobials, vaccines and diagnostics are accessible and affordable for all,” Nadda said.
Diarrhoeal illness in four developing nations, including India, leads to consumption of around 500 million courses of antibiotics and it could go up to over 622 million courses by 2030, a recent study had said while noting it could be reduced by 60 per cent through improved sanitation.
Experts have maintained that increasing drug resistance is likely to disproportionately affect lower and middle-income countries with their twin burdens of underdeveloped public health infrastructure and high infectious disease rates.
During his visit, Nadda also met Malaysian Health Minister S Subramaniam today and discussed issues of bilateral importance in health sector.
He also met his Japanese counterpart Yasuhisa Shiozaki and held a 30-minute long bilateral meeting. They stressed the importance of enhancing cooperation in the health sector and recognised that pharmaceuticals, medical devices, training and capacity building as potential areas of enhanced cooperation.
Shiozaki acknowledged India’s strength in pharmaceuticals, particularly generic medicines and referred to Japan’s own efforts in enhancing use of generic medicines in its medicines mix.
Nadda also stressed cooperation in the area of generic medicines, as well as in area of medical devices with greater opportunities being opened up due to our ‘Make in India’ programme. He stressed the need for sharing of rich experience of traditional medicines and naturotherapy, Ayurveda and Yoga between both nations in combating non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and lifestyle diseases.