ICMR releases guidelines for antibiotics’ judicious use

Irrational prescription of broad-spectrum antibiotics, poor regulations around sale of antibiotics are some of the key factors driving AMR in our country.

Updated - November 21, 2018 01:48 pm IST

Published - November 21, 2018 01:45 pm IST

ODLs are produced by bacteria found in soil-dwelling worms

ODLs are produced by bacteria found in soil-dwelling worms

To ensure judicious use of antibiotics in healthcare facilities, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) released on November 20, Antimicrobial Stewardship Guidelines to advise hospitals in setting up Antimicrobial Stewardship Programmes (AMSP) for the purpose.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a major public health challenge, and with very few new antibiotics in the pipeline, it is important to use the existing drugs judiciously. Since inappropriate use of antibiotics is rampant in India, there is an urgent need to improve antibiotic use in hospitals, which can be achieved through implementation of good AMS programmes, Director General of the ICMR Dr Balram Bhargava said.

These guidelines provide guidance for setting up structure and processes of Antimicrobial Stewardship Programmes in healthcare institutions. It will help discuss essential elements of antimicrobial stewardship, diagnostic stewardship besides providing information on tools that can be used to measure progress.

The National Health Policy, 2017, terms antimicrobial resistance as one of the key healthcare issues and prioritises development of guidelines regarding antibiotic use, limiting over-the-counter use of antibiotics and restricting the use of antibiotics as growth promoters in livestock.

Lack of hospital structure

Hospital-based programmes dedicated to improving antibiotic use have been helpful in improving the quality of patient care and safety through increased infection cure rates, reducing treatment failures, and increasing the frequency of correct prescription for therapy and prophylaxis, Dr Bhargava said.

Unfortunately, most of hospitals in India lack the structure and process of implementing Antimicrobial Stewardship Programmes, the ICMR director general said.

“Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a major public health challenge, which is recognised as high priority area by the government. The increasing consumption of antibiotics is one of the key drivers of antimicrobial resistance seen in bugs,” Dr Bhargava said. “Irrational prescription of broad-spectrum antibiotics, poor regulations around sale of antibiotics, self-medication, lack of education and awareness regarding responsible use of antibiotics have been identified as some of the key factors driving antimicrobial resistance in our country.”

Continuing its capacity building initiative, the ICMR organised AMSP training, for more than 150 participants from various hospitals and medical colleges. It had organised four such workshops last year in which 150 healthcare staff from 32 medical colleges and hospitals were trained. Almost all the hospitals which participated in the workshops have initiated AMSP activities.

The workshop on November 20 was held in partnership with Pfizer under the ICMR-Pfizer partnership on AMR in order to help in expansion of the ongoing initiatives of ICMR in the areas of stewardship, surveillance and awareness on Antimicrobial Resistance to other levels of healthcare.

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