Achieving Sustainable Development Goals: Combating Antimicrobial Resistance

| Updated: Dec 24, 2016 13:59 IST

New Delhi [India], Dec. 24 (ANI): A call for action was raised at a Policy Roundtable on "Achieving Sustainable Development Goals: Combating Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)" organized by Neeti Foundation, an independent think tank. Policymakers, researchers and experts recently called for coordinated action, stronger policies, greater awareness on combating addressing Antimicrobial Resistance towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals 3 for the good health and well-being of all. The objective of the Roundtable was to initiate discussion on the serious health threat posed by indiscriminate and irrational use of antibiotics and the inadequate treatment of effluents discharged by the rapidly expanding pharmaceutical sector in India. India is a signatory to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and meeting this commitment requires not only specific, monitorable indicators but also an enabling policy framework and implementation capacity at both centre and state level. SDG 3 seeks to ensure health and well-being for all, at every stage of life by addressing major diseases and health priorities, including access to safe, effective, quality and affordable medicines and vaccines. It also calls greater R & D, increased health financing and strengthened capacity of all countries in health risk reduction and public health emergency management. In the opening plenary session on "Addressing AMR- Imperative for Health and SDGs", Dr Suraj Kumar, Chief Mentor, Neeti Foundation, explained the workshop objectives and highlighted the potential risks of a "post-antibiotic society". He stated that AMR was a risk not only for SDG 3 but across SDGs, including for agriculture and economic growth. The panel discussion in the plenary highlighted the fact that it is important to address the key causes of AMR. As the largest consumer and producer of antibiotics, if people are to use them responsibly, manufacturers should also make them responsibly. Sustainable antibiotic manufacturing is the way for the future and should apply clean technology, treat waste responsibly, measure and monitor antibiotic activity in waste. Hon'ble Secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Shri C.K. Mishra and Shri Arun Kumar Mehta, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change, delivered the plenary remarks. Shri C.K. Mishra, Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, "AMR is a critical issue today and needs to be addressed urgently in India. Lifesaving devices should not become life threatening devices. Irrational use of medicines also raises the cost of healthcare for our country. In addition, very little research is happening on AMR which is a larger concern. We therefore need a protocol for rational drug use and antibiotic stewardship in the country and support it with the necessary regulatory framework. Doctors, communities, public health experts and manufacturers all need to come together to chalk a way forward. Public awareness also needs to be raised. The Ministry of Health is already coming out shortly a comprehensive plan of action, the Red Line Campaign on AMR with the National Centre for Disease Control and World Health Organisation (WHO)" Shri Arun Mehta, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change, "When we look at SDGs, we find that the 17 goals and 169 targets are all linked to one another. The issue of drug abuse is well-recognized in India and even infant mortality rates and maternal mortality rates are closely linked to it. There is a need for stronger policies and awareness generation among all key stakeholders and the public. Although we have standards and limits laid down for emissions and industrial pollutants, we need to develop clear norms on pharma effluent standards and reexamine the issue vis-a-vis the rising concern of AMR today." In the technical session on Rational Drug Use v/s SDG-3' and Sustainable Antibiotics, moderated by Dr Mira Shiva, All India Drug Action Network, panelists from Food and Agricultural Organization, Indian Medical Association, National Centre for Disease Control, CSE, PHFI and SAATHI called for steps - organizing a national consultation on AMR, giving technical support to the Government, offering incentives for R&D of new, safe antibiotics, fixing a ceiling/controlling price variations of vital antibiotics and advocating with medical experts to prescribe fixed dose combinations - to tackle AMR. Closing this session, Dr Mira Shiva said, "AMR cannot be separated from the issue of rational drug use as it is an integral part of it. To tackle antibiotic resistance comprehensively, we need an effective primary healthcare system, rational drug policy and increased health literacy. I cannot emphasize enough the need for better healthcare service delivery systems so that people are not dependent on private chemists and over the counter medicines". In the session on Sustainable Antibiotics moderated by Dr. Suraj Kumar, Neeti Foundation, panelists from Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, Netherlands, University of Gothenberg, Sweden, WHO, Centre for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy, DSM Sinochem Pharmaceuticals, Toxics Link and media, the panelists during their presentations placed emphasis on closely related issues such as aligning with Government programmes, advocating for inter-ministerial coordination, stronger policies and norms on waste treatment and disposal, regulation and enforcement on urban and sewage waste, hospital and pharma solid and effluent waste, building a industrial consortium to tackle the issue, working with State Governments where Pharma hubs are located through state-focused action plans. Emphasis was also placed on enlisting regional and social media support to build public awareness. Dr. Suraj Kumar, Chief Mentor, Neeti Foundation stated that "Anti-microbial resistance is a serious public health concern in our society today. If we are to work towards achieving the objectives underlined under SDG 3 which seeks to ensure health and well-being for all, we must devise a concerted action to tackle AMR. Deliberations at this roundtable by experts from various sectors today have will help us to prepare a more comprehensive policy note and recommendations to combat AMR. This will be submitted to the Government to assist it to chart a way towards achieving sustainable health and well-being for the present and future generations". (ANI)
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