Why are doctors worried about antibiotic resistance in India?

01 Jan 2020

Longitude Prize Video: The impact of antibiotic resistance on healthcare in India

The rise of drug resistant infections is a global challenge requiring a global solution. It is estimated that within three decades, a population the size of Greater London (10 million) will die from once-treatable infections every year because the antibiotics we have no longer work.

Bacteria will always evolve to resist antibiotics that we produce, but we can influence the speed at which that resistance develops through sensible and sustainable antibiotic stewardship. Over-prescription and unnecessary prescription are a significant cause of antibiotic resistance.

”Guidelines recommend several things to be done within 1 hour from the time you diagnosis a septic patient. That means that we have very little time available to give the right antibiotic. If we had a test that actually detects antimicrobial resistance and susceptibility treatment within that golden hour, it would actually help us a lot.”

– Dr Sanjay Bhattacharya, Tata Medical Centre, Kolkata

The £8m Longitude Prize is calling upon innovators across the world to develop an affordable, accurate and rapid diagnostic test that can identify whether an infection is bacterial, and if it is, which antibiotic to prescribe. Empowering clinicians to target treatment with confidence at the point of care means they can prescribe the right antibiotic, first time.

Countries across the world are working tirelessly to make affordable, accurate, rapid point-of-care (POC) diagnostics a reality, with India one of the countries at the forefront of innovation thanks to significant support from BIRAC (Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council). We spoke to innovators, clinicians and policymakers in Delhi about drug resistance and the urgent need for solutions.

”The biggest driver for me was when my daughter’s one year old got a UTI and for about 3 days we did not know what was going on or what should be done. Our pediatrician was very smart and said let’s not give any antibiotic until we get a culture report. And those 3 days taught me what it means to be having to wait that period for your child, your loved one, to get the right medicine. So that set us on our journey to find something that would work in 30 minutes and give us a solution that tells the physician which antibiotic to use, if at all.”

– Dr Sudeshna Adak, Omix Labs, Longitude Prize Competitor

This video was created at the opening exhibition of Superbugs: The End of Antibiotics?, by the Science Museum (London), at the National Science Centre Delhi in September 2019. The Longitude Prize team from Nesta Challenges caught up with some innovators and clinicians about their thoughts on the impact of antibiotic resistance on healthcare and the people facing these issues in India. The video features:

  • Professor Andrew Shaw, Attomarker, Longitude Prize competitor (UK)
  • Dr Sandeep Sareen, Department of Biotechnology, India
  • Dr Sanjay Bhattacharya, Tata Medical Centre, Kolkata
  • Dr Sudeshna Adak, OmiX Labs, Longitude Prize competitor (India)
  • Professor Till Bachmann, The University of Edinburgh and Longitude Prize Judge
  • Dr Sarma Pakala, BIRAC (India)