The Chennai Declaration — a document prepared in 2012 by representatives of stakeholders and experts in India to tackle antimicrobial resistance — has now come up with a five-year plan for implementing its recommendations effectively by restricting the over-the-counter sale of 60 per cent antibiotic drugs in the next two years and 90 per cent by the end of five years.

All tertiary health care facilities are expected to have in-hospital antibiotic monitoring facilities by the year-end, and all secondary and primary health centres will have an antibiotic policy in place at the end of two years. All hospitals and healthcare facilities at the primary level will have an autonomous antibiotic policy accreditation agency to monitor antibiotic usage, and infection control measures will have to be taken by the end of five years.

The five-year plan provides a time-bound plan for implementing various recommendations of the Declaration. In tune with the basic spirit of the Declaration, a ‘practical not perfect’ approach has been prepared for achievable targets for the first, second and fifth years.

Based on the Declaration that calls for urgent initiatives to formulate an effective policy to control the rising antimicrobial resistance, including a ban on the over-the-counter sale of antibiotics, and to change the medical education curriculum to include training in antibiotic usage and infection control, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has restricted the sale of 24 antibiotics by amending the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, and notifying a new Schedule H1.

“Although the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare initiated efforts to control antimicrobial resistance way back in 2010, publicity efforts around the Chennai Declaration created widespread awareness of the issue among the Indian medical community, policymakers and public, and changed the way the international academic community viewed the resistance scenario in developing countries,” Abdul Ghafur, the brain behind the Chennai Declaration, told The Hindu.

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