The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare recently launched a much-needed public awareness campaign highlighting the illeffects of overuse and misuse of antibiotics. Named as ‘Medicines with the Red Line’, packs of certain medicines  carry a ‘red line’ differentiating them from other drugs. It is a much applauded move by the indian government to stop over-the-counter sale of many antibiotics as intake of antibiotics without prescription causes drug resistance for several critical diseases some of which includes TB, malaria, urinary tract infection and even HIV. Inappropriate use of antibiotics makes bacterial infections immune to them.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has raised an alarm to arrest the reduving effectiveness of many antibiotics.According to stats, over 7 lakh deaths each year are attributed to drug resistance worldwide. 20-30 per cent of antibiotics are consumed without prescription in South and East Europe, and up to 100 per cent in parts of Africa.

In India, an additional 20 lakh lives can be lost by 2050 due to drug resistance.

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Reasons Why This Problem Might Have Surfaced?

Some of the reasons behind sharp increase in the consumption rates of antibiotics are high disease burden, cheap, unregulated sales of antibiotics and poor public health infrastructure.

Is There A Way To Combat This Increasing Problem?

Well there is always a solution to the problem but then its success depends on how fast the problem gets solved. Awareness is the major step to help India combat microbial resistance.

First, stopping antibiotics midway, missing doses, taking suboptimal dosages, or consuming antibiotics for cold and other viral infections, to name a few, makes viruses resistant to antibiotics; when ill the next time, their only possible of getting out of the disease will be more expensive or stronger dosage of medicines. Example can be the case of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis that requires longer period of treatment using very toxic drugs that are more expensive.

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What Is Governments Take On This?

India is hosting an international meeting on ‘Combating Antimicrobial Resistance: Public Health Challenge and Priority’ in New Delhi trying its best to curb the over usage and easy availability of antibiotics in India.

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The campaign would try to grab people’s eyeballs by using hard-hitting messages like those used for tobacco, and side-effects of over-prescribing shall also be highlighted.

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