A year-long surveillance of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) across the country reveals a grim picture of superbugs (or drug-resistant microorganisms) victory over medicines. The survey was conducted by the newly formed Healthcare Associated Infection Surveillance-India.


Findings of the report

  • According to the findings of the first-ever year-long surveillance, superbugs were widely present in Indian hospitals.
    • The presence of superbugs indicates resistance to older antibiotics and the need for costly last-resort antibiotics (such as carbapenem and colistin).
  • Intensive Care Units (ICUs) are hotbeds for HAIs —
    • Most doctors are aware that ICU patients in India who stay for long periods become infected with gram-negative microorganisms, which are more difficult to treat than gram-positive organisms found in ICUs of western countries.
    • The findings confirm the magnitude of these gram-negative infections as these bacteria were found to be common in Indian ICUs.
      • Gram-negative bacteria are among the most significant public health problems in the world due to the high resistance to antibiotics.
  • Furthermore, it was discovered that 38.1% of patients with bloodstream infections and another 27.9% with UTIs died within 14 days, and the HAIs in these cases were possibly only associated complications that did not directly contribute to death.


Antimicrobial resistance

  • Antimicrobials – including antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals and antiparasitics – are medicines used to prevent and treat infections in humans, animals and plants.
  • AMR occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change over time and no longer respond to medicines (drug resistance) making infections increasingly difficult or impossible to treat and increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death.
  • As a result, WHO recently identified AMR as a major public health threat.
  • AMR organisms are found in people, animals, food, plants and the environment (in water, soil and air).
  • They can spread from person to person or between people and animals, including from food of animal origin.


Main drivers of AMR

  • The misuse and overuse of antimicrobials;
  • Lack of access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) for both humans and animals;
  • Poor infection and disease prevention and control in health-care facilities and farms;
  • Poor access to quality, affordable medicines, vaccines and diagnostics;
  • Lack of awareness and knowledge; and
  • Lack of enforcement of legislation.


What is ‘HAI Surveillance-India Project’?

  • A cooperative agreement known as the HAI Surveillance-India project was launched by the Government of India.
  • Under this, the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi collaborated with the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to —
    • Strengthen the national capacity for surveillance of HAIs to serve the need for reliable AMR data.
    • Leverage the existing capacities for microbiology and robust academic capabilities of the ICMR-AMR network.
    • Support successful patient care and to measure, track and report the magnitude and types of AMR and HAI threats affecting India.