"The joint declaration reflects the much needed commitment of multiple ministries on AMR. The recommendation to establish a National Authority for Containment of AMR is a welcome move," said Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general, CSE.
"The National Action Plan on AMR is ambitious, comprehensive and multi-sectoral. We now need to ensure its effective implementation through sustained political will, multi-ministerial involvement, funding support from government and suitable state-level action plans," added Bhushan.
Antibiotic resistance has become a global public health threat as antibiotics used to treat diseases including common infections, are increasingly becoming ineffective. Misuse of antibiotics in human health, its misuse in food animal production such as in case of chicken, fish, dairy and honey compounds the problem. In addition, AMR can also spread through waste from healthcare facilities, animal farms, animal food processing units and pharmaceutical manufacturing units. India and countries across the world are to submit their multi-year National Action Plans to tackle AMR to World Health Organization by May this year.
"The Plan by itself seems sound. Its success however, would depend on national-level programmes to support small-scale animal farms, a new AMR-centric approach to manage waste from animal farms, animal food processing and pharmaceutical manufacturing sector and health care facilities," says Amit Khurana, head, food safety programme, CSE, who was part of the team that developed the Plan.
"There is a global momentum to address AMR. With a high load of infectious diseases and the existing poor state of sanitation, hygiene and waste management, India cannot afford any more delays on this critical issue. There is an imperative to institutionalize an approach which is aggressive enough to tackle this problem," adds Khurana.
CSE has been closely involved in developing India's National Action Plan on AMR through inputs on policy and programmes required to control animal and environment aspects of AMR. It had earlier highlighted through its extensive research, the misuse of antibiotics in rearing chicken, fish and honey production. CSE was also instrumental in developing strategic and operational guidance for AMR National Action Plans for developing countries.
Highlights of the Plan on animal and environmental aspects include:
Restricting and phase-out of non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in food animals, such as antibiotic use as growth promoter and in disease prevention. Restricting and regulating feed and feed premix containing antibiotics. Eliminating use of critically important antimicrobials for humans in food animals.
Regulating availability of antibiotics in bulk and those sold online, including feed and feed premix. Ensuring prescription sale and appropriate labelling.
Conducting national-level surveillance of antibiotic resistance in humans, animal and the environment; surveillance of antibiotic use in humans and animals; and monitoring of antibiotic residues in food animals and the environment.
Reducing environmental spread of AMR through necessary laws and surveillance of waste from animal farms, animal food processing, pharmaceutical sector and health care facilities.
Introducing programmes to support small and mid-size animal farmers to help them reduce antibiotic use; issuing pond-health cards and installing necessary systems to prevent infection, support biosecurity and waste management.
Developing a separate policy for freshwater/inland fisheries and establishing an independent veterinary regulatory authority for drugs.
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