Drug war – Antibiotic Use and Resistance in India: A Comprehensive Analysis | 6 January 2024 | UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis

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What's the article about?

  • This article examines the issue of antibiotic use and resistance, focusing on the findings of the 'First Multicentric Point Prevalence Survey of Antibiotic Use at 20 NAC-NET Sites India 2021-22' conducted by the National Centre for Disease Control under the Health Ministry.


  • GS1: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources
  • GS3: Awareness in the fields of Bio-technology


  • The overuse and misuse of antibiotics is a growing threat to public health, leading to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
  • This article analyzes a recent survey in India that found high rates of antibiotic use, with over 70% of patients in tertiary-care hospitals being prescribed antibiotics.
  • The article also discusses the dangers of AMR and the need for action to combat it.
  • The 'First Multicentric Point Prevalence Survey of Antibiotic Use at 20 NAC-NET Sites India 2021-22' was conducted by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) under the Health Ministry to assess antibiotic use and identify patterns in antibiotic prescription across 20 National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System-Netherlands (NARMS-NET) sites in India.
  • The survey aimed to quantify antibiotic utilization and determine the pattern of antibiotic use in these sites.


  • The adage “prevention is better than cure” is often used to justify the overuse of antibiotics. However, in the case of antibiotics, this approach can be counter-productive.
  • When antibiotics are used too often, it creates a selective pressure that favors the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. These bacteria are no longer susceptible to antibiotics, making it much more difficult to treat infections.
  • Antibiotic Misuse in India: Key Findings from the Survey
    • Over 70% of patients in tertiary-care hospitals across 15 States and two Union Territories were prescribed antibiotics.
    • Over 50% of antibiotics prescribed have the potential to cause antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
    • 55% of the patients surveyed were prescribed antibiotics as prophylaxis, or as a preventive measure, while only 45% were prescribed antibiotics to treat infections.
    • Only 6% of the prescriptions were given after identifying the specific bacteria causing the infection.
  • AMR: A Looming Threat to Modern Medicine
    • AMR is a serious threat to modern medicine. It makes it more difficult to treat infections, and it can also lead to more severe and prolonged illnesses. In some cases, AMR can even be fatal. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that AMR was directly responsible for 1.27 million global deaths in 2019 and contributed to 4.95 million deaths.
  • Combating AMR: A Call to Action
    • Raising awareness of the dangers of AMR: The public, healthcare professionals, and policymakers all need to be aware of the dangers of AMR.
    • Promoting the rational use of antibiotics: Antibiotics should only be used when they are truly necessary.
    • Developing new antibiotics: We need to develop new antibiotics to replace the ones that are no longer effective.
    • Investing in research on AMR: More research is needed to understand how AMR develops and how it can be prevented.
  • Role of Doctors, Government, and Patients:
    • The role of doctors and the government in regulating the use of drugs is crucial in this battle against AMR.
    • Patients too play a significant role in this issue, as they often expect immediate relief from ailments.
    • However, medical science offers no magical remedy, and it is essential for patients to understand the importance of proper diagnosis and treatment.
    • Ultimately, it is the agency with the power to establish systems that strictly regulate the use of antimicrobials and promote and fund research on newer antibiotics that will draw the line between life and death.

Way Forward:

  • The battle against AMR is a long-term one. But by taking action now, we can help to protect ourselves from this growing threat.

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