In the global fight against the Ebola epidemic, this city has had a small role to play, believe it or not.
Experts from Nigeria, which could successfully control the Ebola outbreak, have acknowledged the role of the Chennai Declaration, an Indian initiative for tackling the challenge of antibiotics resistance in the country, in improving infection control.
It was in this city in August 2012, at the joint meeting of medical societies in India, that the Chennai Declaration emerged as a ‘roadmap to tackle the challenge of antimicrobial resistance’. It had a role to play in the recent over-the-counter regulations to rationalise the use of antibiotics in the country.
“Since the Chennai Declaration, we see an attitudinal change. From a complete denial of the problem of antibiotic resistance, we see hospitals now acknowledging it, and willing to work towards a better scenario,” said Abdul Ghafur, consultant, infectious diseases, Apollo Hospital, who was also part of the meeting.
“This attitude change is very significant and the desire of medical authorities to take concrete steps to cut down resistance is crucial,” he added.
It has helped that the Declaration has received recognition in several international academic and political circles, and from nations that once expressed concern over deadly strains of resistant bacteria that could be traced back to India. It was discussed at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, London, at a meeting for UN diplomats in Geneva and in the World Health Assembly, and at the Euroscience Open Forum in Copenhagen, Dr. Ghafur explained.
More recently, the Chennai Declaration was discussed in the British Parliament, with MP Jane Ellison, who is also the British parliamentary under secretary of health, appreciating the efforts to control antibiotics resistance in India.
“I confirm that the recently-produced Chennai Declaration has begun to tighten up on over-the-counter use, so we are beginning to see significant action. India also supported a World Health Assembly resolution on this matter,” Ms. Ellison has been quoted as saying.
Dr. Ghafur said, “It is exciting that ‘antibiotics’ has been chosen as the theme for Britain’s prestigious Longitude Prize. It adds more grist to our mill, raises the profile for the cause.” The challenge for the Longitude Prize 2014, which carries a 10 million Pounds prize fund, will be to create a cheap, accurate, rapid and easy-to-use point-of-care test kit for bacterial infections, according to the Chennai Declaration website.