Hospitals in India have a high burden of infections in their intensive care units and wards, many of which are resistant to anti-biotic treatment, according to the Global Antibiotic Resistance Partnership (GARP)-India Working Group and the Centre for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy (CDDEP).

The 2011 GARP report titled “Situation Analysis: Antibiotic Use and Resistance in India” also states that a large proportion of the hospital acquired infections (HAI) are preventable with increased infection control measures.

“Research on hospital infections in the country reveals concerning trends. In ICUs the rate of vancomycin-resistant enterococcus, a dangerous hospital infection, is five times the rate in the rest of the world.

Rates of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in Indian ICUs are also high, with one study finding over 80 per cent of S. aureus samples testing positive for resistance to methicillin and closely related anti-biotics,” the report notes.

Anti-biotic resistant infections are difficult and sometimes impossible to treat. They lead to longer hospital stays, increased treatment costs and in some cases death. The GARP research estimates that of the “190,000 neo-natal deaths in India each year due to sepsis -- a bacterial infection that overwhelms the bloodstream, over 30 per cent are attributable to anti-biotic resistance.”

“A large proportion of the hospital infections are easily preventable with increased hospital infection control, including stepping up hygiene practices, such as frequent hand-washing,” says Dr. Ramanan Laxminarayan, director of CDDEP and vice-president at Research and Policy at the Public Health Foundation of India.

“However, hospitals in India often do not follow infection control practices. This leads to the spread of disease. In response to the growing burden of HAIs in India, the Global Antibiotic Resistance Partnership is issuing several key recommendations that aim at reducing the prevalence of HAIs including increased hand-washing, use of isolation rooms for infected patients and use of gloves and gowns”, the report said.