Global consumption of antibiotics increased by 65% between 2000 and 2015, according to a study by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the US. The growth has been especially high in India, which has doubled its antibiotic consumption. In light of the rising global concerns about drug-resistant infections and India’s plan to eradicate tuberculosis by 2025, this is bad news.
Drug-resistant tuberculosis is a growing problem facing the country as affected patients increased by 13% in 2016, even as total deaths from tuberculosis fell. Widespread consumption of antibiotics is a primary driver of drug resistance.
Drug-resistant infections are difficult to treat because the most-effective forms of medication do not work on the patient and much longer treatments are required.
The government needs to improve sanitation, access to clean drinking water, availability of vaccines and alternative forms of treatment to prevent excessive reliance on antibiotics and to achieve the ambitious tuberculosis eradication goal.