Monday, October 14, 2019

High Court moved seeking ban on antibiotics sale without prescription

  • Staff Correspondent,
    Published: 2019-04-24 23:36:15 BdST


A lawyer has moved the High Court seeking a ruling to ban the sale of antibiotics in Bangladesh without proper supervision and prescription.

“About 700,000 people die every year in the world from antimicrobial resistance and unless effective measures are taken, 10 million people could die annually by 2050 from it,” he said in the public interest petition referring to a report of World Health Organisation or WHO.

Lawyer Syed Sayedul Haque Sumon filed the writ petition with reports published in different media, including UK’s the Telegraph and some local dailies before a bench on Wednesday.

Antimicrobial resistance occurs naturally over time as microorganisms undergo genetic changes. As they evolve, antibiotics can become less effective at treating an infection.

Bangladesh is a vulnerable country due to excessive use of antibiotics in fodder, fish and agriculture. Antibiotics are mostly being used in agriculture, making up almost half of the total antibiotics used in the country.

As a result, the antibiotic is easily penetrating the human body through agricultural food. This is leading the antibiotic to lose its effectiveness and the body to reduce its resistance against diseases.

Because of the high levels of antibiotic use, some bacterial infections are now becoming a threat to the user's life.

Antibiotics have become ineffective for 55.7 percent of the people in the capital due to adoption of high antibiotics through agricultural products, according to a report published by Poribesh Bachao Andolon, an environmental group, the petition said.

The petition further stated that the national drug policy has failed to highlight the effect of unnecessary use of antibiotics. On the other hand, needless use of the antibiotics is a death trap for the people. The responsibility of the state is to protect people from this trap.

The health secretary, director general of health services, public administration secretary and all district administrators of the country are the defendants of the petition.

The court is expected to hear the petition on Thursday, according to lawyer Suman.

Antimicrobial resistant superbugs could be responsible for up to 80 per cent of deaths in Bangladesh's biggest intensive care unit (ICU), according to a report titled ‘Superbugs linked to eight out of 10 deaths in Bangladeshi ICUs’ published by the Telegraph on Apr 22 this year.

Quoting Professor Sayedur Rahman, chairman of the department of pharmacology at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medial University or BSMMU, the report said, “Out of approximately 900 patients admitted to the unit in 2018, 400 died.”

“And out of those deaths around 80 per cent were attributed to a bacterial or fungal infection that was resistant to antibiotics,” he said.

Bangladesh, India and Pakistan are seen as drivers of antimicrobial resistance because of poor adherence to antibiotic treatment, the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics for growth promotion in farm animals, self-medication and illegal over-the-counter access to antibiotics, said the report.

"There should be more security... they [antibiotics] should not be available over the counter and others should only be dispensed from hospitals," said Dr Rahman.

A study in Chattogram, the second-largest city in Bangladesh, found that over half of poultry chickens were infected with multi-drug resistant bacteria. However, the emergence of antimicrobial superbugs is not just a problem for South Asia and can be seen across the world, said The Telegraph.