The antimicrobial resistance crisis is affecting even the efficiency of medicines like colistin, whose use is reserved for cases where other antibiotics have failed
Colistin is an antibiotic that is used for the treatment of various bacterial infections including stomach infections and prevention of bowel sterilisation before any surgery is performed. The drug is used to treat certain types of serious infections caused by gram-negative bacteria which do not respond to other antibiotics.
But today, the drug is no longer working in our systems. So, why is it happening?
According to experts, antibiotic colistin is now widely used in agriculture as well as in livestock farming. The overuse of this drug to promote growth has given rise to a mobilised colistin resistance gene. This gene is often found on the mobile genetic elements of bacteria that live in livestock.
Mobile genetic elements are a type of moving genetic material which can either move around within a genome or jump across different genomes. When these resistance genes jump from animals to humans, they can lead to treatment failures.
The practice of using antibiotics for promoting growth is of great concern because it accounts for a significant portion of antibiotic use globally and poses a direct threat to human health by reducing the effectiveness of critical antibiotics.
In 2019, India imposed a ban on the commercial use of colistin for growth, marking a significant milestone in the fight against antibiotic resistance. This move has markedly curtailed the use of colistin as a growth promoter in the poultry industry.
Persistent efforts of the Chennai Declaration team, active engagement with policymakers and interdisciplinary work of relevant ministries of the central government were crucial in achieving the prohibition of colistin for growth promotion.
The antimicrobial resistance crisis is affecting even the efficiency of medicines like colistin, whose use is reserved for cases where other antibiotics have failed.
Going forward, India’s commitment to antibiotic stewardship must extend beyond colistin. Continuing research, surveillance, and policy advocacy are critical to ensure that positive steps taken are reflected in reduced resistance rates and the protection of public health.
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