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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 10/13/21

What if TB, HIV medicines stop working? Experts unite against drug resistance

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Bobby Ramakant - CNS

Antimicrobial resistance is one of the major threats confronting TB and HIV programmes which is so preventable: Dr IShwar Gilada
Antimicrobial resistance is one of the major threats confronting TB and HIV programmes which is so preventable: Dr IShwar Gilada
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One year and 10 months ago when first case of corona virus was reported in Wuhan, China, entire world was terrified because no one knew if we have any medicine that will work against it. Possibly our worst fears came true and we witnessed the horrendous impact of the pandemic. One silver lining in dark Covid cloud is the hard-taught lesson to value the medicines we have, which try to cure and heal us from range of illnesses. We cannot afford to lose these lifesaving medicines. One major threat because of which medicines stop working against bugs that make us ill is Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).

AMR in tuberculosis (TB) and HIV has long been referred to as drug resistance. "TB and HIV drug resistance threatens the effective prevention and treatment. When drug resistance develops, the TB bacteria and AIDS virus change so that they no longer respond to medicines, making infections harder to treat, more expensive to treat, and increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death" said Dr Ishwar Gilada, President of ASI (AIDS Society of India), who is credited to be among the first Indian doctors to begin medical management of HIV when first case got diagnosed in the country.

World Antimicrobial Resistance Awareness Week

World Antimicrobial Resistance Awareness Week (WAAW) will be observed during 18-24 November 2021. A month before that, Dr Ishwar Gilada and Dr Sudarshan Mandal, head of Indian government's National TB Elimination Programme (NTEP), co-chaired a high level ASI Advisory Board Meeting on managing TB and HIV drug resistance.

Combating drug resistance is a more compelling priority than ever before

Dr Gilada added: "We cannot afford to lose lifesaving medicines for TB and HIV at this critical juncture when all countries in the world have committed to end AIDS and TB by 2030 (only 110 months left to meet the goal). India stands firm to end TB by 2025 (only 50 months are left). Combating drug resistance is a more compelling priority than ever before."

Covid pandemic forced an unprecedented global public health emergency, and measures taken to curb the corona virus jeopardised essential and critical public health services. TB and HIV services were no different as they too got impacted the most where they were needed most (in high burden nations and settings).

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