ICMR releases guidelines for antibiotics’ judicious use

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 the implementation of good AMS programmes.

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

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

Continuing its capacity-building initiative, the ICMR organized AMSP training, for more than 150 participants from various hospitals and medical colleges. It had organized 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.

Antibiotic resistance arises when bacteria evolve mechanisms to withstand the drugs which are used to fight infection.  It is one of the most important public health issues currently.  Antimicrobial resistance happens when microorganisms (such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites) change when they are exposed to antimicrobial drugs (such as antibiotics, antifungals, antivirals, antimalarials, and anthelmintics). Microorganisms that develop antimicrobial resistance are sometimes referred to as “superbugs”. As a result, the medicines become ineffective and infections persist in the body, increasing the risk of spread to others.

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