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India develops National Action Plan to combat Antimicrobial Resistance

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a serious threat to global public health that requires action across all government sectors: Health Minister

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Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a serious threat to global public health that requires action across all government sectors and society and is driven by many interconnected factors. Single, isolated interventions have limited impact and coordinated action is required to minimise the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance. This was stated by JP Nadda, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare at at the ‘Inter-Ministerial Consultation on AMR containment’, in New Delhi.

Nadda also announced the finalisation of India’s comprehensive and multi-sectoral National Action Plan at the function. Ram Vila Paswan, Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, Anil Madhav Dave, Minister of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Anupriya Patel, MoS (Health & Family Welfare) were also present in the meeting. The Ministers later signed a ‘Delhi Declaration’ for collectively strategising to contain AMR. It pledges to adopt a holistic and collaborative approach towards prevention and containment of antimicrobial resistance in India. It calls on all stakeholders including UN, WHO, FAO and other UN agencies and civil society organisations to support the development and implementation of the national and state action plans on AMR.

“We are working in the direction of pulling out malaise of AMR from the root. Health Ministry is at the receiving end as there are various layers and every layer needs to be addressed,” The Health Minister said. He further added that the action plan has been prepared through extensive national consultations with various stakeholders. “In alignment with global action plan, India’s action plan has objectives of enhancing awareness, strengthening surveillance, improving rational use of antibiotics, reducing infections and promoting research. In addition, India aims to support neighbouring countries in collective fight against infectious diseases,” Nadda added.

Acknowledging the progress made by the Government in combating AMR, the Minister said that Health Ministry has taken a lead in this effort at international fora and has initiated series of actions including setting up a National Surveillance System for AMR, enacted regulations (Schedule-H-1) to regulate sale of antibiotics, brought out National Guidelines for use of antibiotics etc. He further said that more efforts are required considering the large size of our country, magnitude of the problem and the fact that AMR needs to be addressed comprehensively under “One Health Approach”.

“This is a landmark occasion”, said the Union Minister for Health. “We are ready with a blueprint that meets global expectations. The challenge now is in its efficient implementation through a coordinated approach at all levels of use of antibiotics,” he added. Nadda urged all State Governments to develop state-specific action plans and assured them of all possible assistance.

Speaking on the occasion, Anil Madhav Dave, Minister of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, said that the Environment Ministry is conscious of the AMR threat and shall contribute in every possible way. Ram Vila Paswan highlighted the ill effects of irresponsible use of antibiotics, food adulteration, excessive insecticides, pesticides and fungicides on human and animal health. Paswan stressed on the need for creating more awareness among masses and strict laws against adulteration.

Anupriya Patel, MoS (Health & Family Welfare) said that collective strike and collaborative effort is needed as singular effort shall have limited impact. She advised for responsible use of antibiotics.

CK Mishra, Secretary (MoH&FW), Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Secretary (DHR) and DG, Indian Council of Medical Research, Dr. Jagdish Prasad, DGHS, Prof. K. Vijay Raghavan, Secretary (DBT) and Dr. Henk Bekedam, WHO Representative to India and other senior officers of the Health Ministry were present along with representatives from Ministries of Agriculture, Pharmaceuticals, Information and Broadcasting, Chemicals and Fertilisers, Water and Sanitation, AYUSH, Food Processing Industries, ICMR, NCDC.

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