Thursday, March 31, 2016

Awareness and incentives reduce prescribing of antibiotics in UK

Contributed by Siddarth D & Dr. Tamhankar 
Over 2 million fewer antibiotic prescriptions were dispensed in primary care throughout 2015 compared to the year before, according to data from NHS (National Health Service) in the UK. This was 7.9% reduction was attributed the incentives introduced to general physicians as well as extensive campaigns to build awareness on antibiotic resistance. 

The NHS along with the Public Health England Department had initiated these campaigns with emphasis in hospitals on vaccinations, general hygiene practices and judicious prescribing of antibiotics. Healthcare facilities and healthcare providers  following these recommendations and demonstrating fall in antibiotic prescribing and consumption were given financial incentives through the campaigns. Given that safely reducing the amount of antibiotics prescribed to patients was an important part of work to tackle antimicrobial resistance, the  NHS and the PHE had started series of campaigns to reduce prescription of antibiotics. It was based on the fact that inappropriate use and overuse of antibiotics were known drivers of resistance, so reducing the amount of antibiotics consumed slowed bacteria developing resistance to these vital drugs and therefore helped prevent antibiotic-resistant infections. 

The NHS officials have lauded these results and promised to do more to tackle the menace of antibiotic resistance. This a good impetus for other countries to follow, by taking up initiatives involving the healthcare system itself to achieve substantial results in curbing antibiotic resistance.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

India creates fund for enabling research on tests for antibiotic resistance

Contributed by Siddarth David & Dr. Tamhankar

The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) of the Government of India has created a fund of  $1,00,000 to start India focussed research on antibiotic resistance for biotechnology start-ups in India.  The fund will be given through the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) for the start-ups to compete for prestigious Longitude Prize which is £ 10 million prize offered by Nesta, a U.K. charity, to any individual group anywhere in the world that develops an affordable, effective diagnostic test to detect resistance to micro-organisms.

Renu Swarup, Managing Director, BIRAC, said the collaborations were to encourage more biotechnology start-ups in India as well as creating an atmosphere where innovation is encouraged and nurtured. BIRAC is a not-for-profit Public Sector Undertaking, set up by DBT as an interface agency to support emerging biotech enterprises to undertake strategic research and innovation, to address nationally relevant product development needs. BIRAC has supported nearly 300 start-ups and Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) and 170 young entrepreneurs for innovation, research and product development.

Given the critical health challenge posed by antibiotic resistance in India, this is a welcome move to encourage research and develop context-specific solutions.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

India issues guidelines for checking hospital infections

Contributed by Dr. Tamhankar & Siddarth David
In a move aimed at controlling hospital acquired infection, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare issued guidelines for healthcare institutions in India to prevent transmission of infections. The guidelines were developed by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), covers the basic principles of infection control, role of health care workers, bio-waste management and elaborates on the steps to be followed for setting up of an effective infection control in hospitals. The norms also include measures for judicious use of antibiotic in hospitals. 

This comes close to the heel of the International Conference on Antimicrobial Resistance held by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, India and the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for South Asia last week in New Delhi. The event stressed need for all the countries in the region to adopt strategies to combat antimicrobial resistance. 

Such guidelines were needed in India to ensure that indiscriminate use of antibiotics is not the solution for preventing hospital-acquired infections. Once enforced, the new guidelines can play a major role in curbing the use of antibiotic in hospitals and promoting alternate methods to control infections.

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