Noting that India has the "highest" tuberculosis burden in the world, a parliamentary panel has asked the government's medical research body to focus its research on multi-drug resistant TB in order to discover a potent drug combination to combat the disease.
At the same time, it has also asked Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to prepare an action plan on antimicrobial resistance on a "priority" basis and work on standardisation of protocol to administer antibiotics.
It has also asked ICMR to take up a national level sensitisation process for the medical community.
"The committee recommends that ICMR should focus its research on multi-drug resistant TB strains with a view to discovering potent drug combinations combating MDRTB," the committee on Demands for Grants 2017-18 of Department of Health Research said.
It observed that India is the highest TB burden country in the world and the biggest challenge from health care point of view is increase in incidence of multi-drug resistant (MDRTB) and Extensively drug-resistant TB (XDRTB), especially in rural areas.
"Though the government has rolled out the administration of Bedaquiline, the first TB drug approval by the USFDA in over 40 years in six public health hospitals in the country to specifically treat MDRTB, a lot remains to be done to improve MDRTB treatment outcomes," said the committee chaired by Ram Gopal Yadav.
The World Health Organisation had recently said that MDRTB burden largely falls on three nations - China, India, and Russia - which together account for nearly half of all global cases.
The committee said antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a "serious" issue which requires immediate attention and action.
"The committee believes that a dedicated action plan on antimicrobial resistance including antibiotic resistance needs to be prepared by ICMR on a priority basis.
"The committee strongly recommends for standardisation of protocol for the administration of antibiotics and expects that a process of sensitising the medical community about the perils of antibiotic resistance should be taken up on a national scale by involving medical and industry associations, medical academia, media and other groups," it said.
The committee also said "aggressive" awareness generation programmes regarding use of antibiotics without a prescription must be taken up to educate people in this regard.
AMR is the ability of a microorganism like bacteria and viruses to stop an antibiotic from working against it, as a result of which standard treatments become ineffective, infections persist and may spread to others.
The government has termed AMR as a "big" challenge and had recently said it is moving towards a mechanism of auditing prescriptions to monitor what drug is being prescribed and detailed guidelines.
The government has also announced the launch of a campaign next week involving four ministries to strategise to contain AMR.
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