Drug Resistance
The ICMR has advised tertiary care hospitals to use these antibiotics only as the last resort on critically-ill patients.
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In the wake of a growing health threat from antimicrobial resistance, the ICMR has advised tertiary care hospitals in south India to avoid at least three antibiotics used in the treatment of multi-drug resistance, The Times of India reported.

Speaking at the first stakeholder meeting in Chennai on Thursday, antibiotic stewardship committee chairman Dr Dilip Mathai said that carbapenems, polymyxin and colistin should be kept in a "low-use" zone.

He stated that in order to avoid them from becoming redundant, they should be used as the last resort on patients who are critically ill.

"Every prescription for these drugs should be approved by an internal committee or another physician before being administered to patients," he said.

The TOI report goes on to state that an ongoing study being conducted by Indian Council of Medical Research in the intensive care units (ICUs) of 20 tertiary hospitals has observed that a minimum of 5-7% of patients in critically-ill conditions are drug resistant.

Dr Mathai said "Poor infection control and lack of rational use of antibiotics may soon make ICUs a hot bed for infections."

What is antimicrobial resistance

Antimicrobial resistance occurs when microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi and parasites develop a resistance to antimicrobial drugs like antibiotics, antifungals, antivirals, antimalarials, and anthelmintics.

This makes the medicines ineffective against the disease or infection.

"Superbugs" are the microorganisms that develop antimicrobial resistance.

A health threat

According to the World Health Organisation, "New resistance mechanisms are emerging and spreading globally, threatening our ability to treat common infectious diseases, resulting in prolonged illness, disability, and death."

"Without effective antimicrobials for prevention and treatment of infections," it explains, "medical procedures such as organ transplantation, cancer chemotherapy, diabetes management and major surgery (for example, caesarean sections or hip replacements) become very high risk."

Antimicrobial resistance in India

India is one of the largest consumers of antibiotics.

In February this year, national guidelines on antibiotics usage, dose and duration of treatment were issued in the country as part of measures to tackle the growing threat of superbugs, the Thomson Reuters Foundation reported.

"The idea of issuing these guidelines is to bring about a change in the way antibiotics are prescribed," Kamini Walia, deputy director of ICMR, told the agency.

She added that, "Doctors' education on antibiotic use has so far been limited to what medical representatives of pharmaceutical companies told them. Some hospitals have prescription guidelines, but most don't."

Also read: Parenting: Why giving your child antibiotics at the drop of a hat is a bad idea

What will happen when antibiotics stop working?

This powerful video shows how bacteria mutate and develop resistance to antibiotics