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Friday, April 1, 2016

Basics can slow antibiotic resistance more effectively

Contributed by: Siddarth David & Dr. Tamhankar


The latest report from the Review of Antimicrobial Resistance a two-year effort created by Prime Minister David Cameron, supported by the Wellcome Trust to examine solutions to the rise of resistance, have highlighted that basic hygiene and improved sanitation can be a very effective tool in the process. It has indicated how the lack of clean water and sanitation both create diseases that demand antibiotic use, and also spread antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The report highlighted that in just four emerging economies (India, Indonesia, Nigeria and Brazil), 494 million cases of diarrhoea each year are treated with antibiotics, a number that could rise to 622 million cases by 2030. If infrastructure were improved, 60 percent of those courses of antibiotics could be foregone. The report says that contaminated water also allows bacteria to cycle between humans and the environment, spinning up the dissemination of resistance genes. 

The Review also found that persistent neglect of simple tasks such as washing hands is fuelling the spread of resistance. As few as 30 to 40 % of hospital staff wash their hands as often as they should and interestingly doctors perform poorer than nurses or staff who are lower in the hierarchy. 

This shows that addressing the issue of antibiotic resistance is a multi-pronged approach and neglecting basic public health issues like clean water, safe sanitation and hygiene practice can play major role in reducing antibiotic use and therefore resistance. We need India need to also deal with the these public health issues in the efforts to curb antibiotic resistance.