To combat growing Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) in India, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and American pharmaceutical firm Pfizer have announced a partnership to set up a center.
The project, under a MoU signed recently, will help implement a series of comprehensive interventions, ranging from AMR stewardship programmes for nursing homes to scale up of the ongoing AMR surveillance network, said a joint statement, adding that Pfizer has provided an initial grant of Rs 6.97 crore with a provision to scale it up further as the programme expands.
Union Health Research Secretary K. Vijay Raghavan, who is also the ICMR Director General, said that the government "recognizes the need for urgent action and hence is developing a national response mechanism to adeptly deal with the growing challenge of antimicrobial resistance".
Currently, infections such as pneumonia, and tuberculosis among others are becoming difficult to treat due to decreased effectiveness arising out of the irrational use of antibiotics, he said, adding the ICMR is "engaging with relevant stakeholders to draw in diverse perspectives and support".
"We are happy to announce this association through which we could bring about a change positively in the way antibiotics are prescribed and used. Behaviour change will need to be a key component of this strategy," said Raghvan.
Pfizer Ltd Managing Director S. Sridhar meanwhile called on the pharmaceutical industry to "respond in full force to support the government's ambitious plan to combat antimicrobial resistance".
Noting his company has been leading the anti-infective effort since mass producing penicillin in the 1940s, he said that Pfizer recognizes that it plays an important role in a collective effort to address AMR - one of the greatest public health challenges of the time.
With AMR viewed as a key priority, the government had in April 2017 finalized a National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance (NAP-AMR), which spells out six strategic priorities including improving awareness through communication, education, and training, strengthening surveillance and promoting investments for AMR initiatives.
The center will help in three basic things -- expanding ICMR's Antimicrobial Stewardship Programme across the country in a phased manner with the focus on smaller in-patient centers and enhancing its existing AMR Surveillance Programme by training specialists to run an expanded network.
It will also focus on awareness and advocacy programme using media and non-media platforms to disseminate information on antibiotic resistance and promote rational use of antibiotics.