The Growing Threat of Antimicrobial Resistance in India

India is the world’s leading consumer of antibiotics, and Amita Gupta, MD, is researching how the country can best mitigate the spread of antimicrobial resistance.

On Tuesday, Gupta presented research entitled “Surveillance of multi-drug resistance organisms in India: Current work and why it matters,” at the World Anti-Microbial Resistance Congress.

Any discussion of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) would be incomplete without taking India, the world’s second most populous country, into consideration. Gupta explained that India has a very complex healthcare system, and is the world’s leading consumer of antimicrobials.

Gupta’s research found that the proportion of resistance to leading antibiotics (such as carbapenems) is 20 times higher in India than in the US. This large number of people and proportion of people with resistance has led to AMR becoming a cause of morbidity and mortality in adults and children.

Gupta discussed the many AMR questions that are still unanswered, including where these highly drug-resistant pathogens are coming from, and what can be done to prevent more resistance from emerging. AMR could be a result of people colonizing their gastrointestinal tract and carrying the bacteria. However, it may also be caused by one’s environment, water, food, or all the above. Beyond questions of etiology, Gupta said, “We want to have really good, robust surveillance systems in place so we can detect more readily and contain any new highly resistant variants.”

Amita Gupta, MD, is a Professor of Medicine and International Health at Johns Hopkins University. She received her MD from Harvard Medical School in 1997, and her MHS from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2006.