India’s first Antibiotics Awareness week was observed last year, stressing the message of rational use of antibiotics in order to prevent resistance later.

The momentum that The Chennai Declaration sought to generate in 2012 has slowly and steadily built up over the years. Medical societies from various parts of India came together in Chennai, and thus, was born the first concerted attempt to create a road map to tackle the challenge of anti-microbial resistance. The resolution that was passed at the conference had signatories from key institutions to do with medical care, people of position in hospitals and institutions who can actually make the change.

The concern was that instances of antibiotics resistance were rising in hospitals across the country and patients were turning resistant to the most powerful antibiotics, thus reducing their chances of survival drastically. “Since then, we’ve had endorsements from several international bodies including the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the Infectious Diseases societies of Australia and Spain, Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and European Society of Clinical microbiology and Infectious Diseases,” says Abdul Ghaful, infectious diseases specialist,

India’s first Antibiotics Awareness week was observed last year, stressing the message of rational use of antibiotics in order to prevent resistance later. “If we do not take measures now, the healthcare system will be seriously affected,” says A. Muruganathan, president, Association of Physicians of India.

That effort is still spilling over, and end January, the Emerging Antimicrobial Resistance Society (EARS), a network of healthcare institutions and research centres across India for the surveillance of bacterial strains resistant to antibiotics, conducted an awareness walk. Also, K.K. College of Pharmacy, Chennai, in association with Venus Medicine Research Centre, Chandigarh, held an awareness rally.

So, how do doctors treat patients today? Do they devote time to interact with patients during diagnosis? Or, are patients immediately referred for a long list of diagnostic procedures?

A man is not a bundle of organs, and many specialists today are organ-centric, S.K. Rajan, Emeritus Professor, Tamil Nadu Dr. MGR Medical University says.

“Diseases are approached in many ways, but what is needed from doctors is a humanitarian approach. Doctors have to sit down and speak to patients. Years ago, doctors diagnosed people without gadgets, and cured people,” he adds.

This is reflected in his books as he shares his experiences with doyens in the field, including K.V. Thiruvengadam, Rathinavel Subramaniam and G. Venkataswamy.

The lessons learnt from Dr. Thiruvengadam were numerous.

In one instance, he diagnosed typhoid with the help of an abdomen scan, which showed that the patient had cecal thickening, mesenteric adenitis and gall bladder wall thickening.

(Reporting by Ramya Kannan and Serena Josephine M.)

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