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India rejects superbug link, blames MNCs

New Delhi: India on Thursday described linking a new superbug resistant to antibiotics to this country as “malicious propaganda” and blaming global MNCs for alert issued by Britain in this regard.

The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), attached to the Union Ministry of Health rejected the study and claimed multinational companies, worried about India’s medical tourism industry, could be behind the scare.

“We strongly refute the naming of this enzyme as New Delhi metallo beta lactamase,” the department said.

“We also refute that hospitals in India are not safe for treatment, including medical tourism,” it added.

According to a study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, a hospital-acquired superbug which cannot be treated by the existing drugs is originating from India.

The sector has been estimated at Rs 1200 crore.

The National Institute of Communicable Diseases pointed out that the bug was a global phenomena and a similar alert was issued in the UK in 2009. In fact Israel, Greece and Scotland had also earlier issued an alert about the ‘superbug’ and none had claimed an India link to it.

Quoting experts, BBC has claimed that bacteria that make an enzyme called NDM-1 or New Delhi-Metallo-1, have travelled back with NHS patients who went abroad to countries like India and Pakistan for treatments such as cosmetic surgery.

V M Katoch, Secretary of Health Research, told PTI that the government would soon draft a reply to this after a meeting of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), a nodal agency under the Health Ministry.

“When you link it to something to our anti-biotics policy, say India specific, say it is dangerous to get operated in India then you will get more infections, that is totally irrational,” he said.

Various experts in India also slammed the claim of Britain.

“Multi drug-resistant organism is a worldwide phenomenon. Telling that it has originated in India is wrong,” Professor N K Ganguly, former director of ICMR and a distinguished biotechnologist, said.

“Such organisms have been reported in various European countries in the past. None had earlier taken interest in finding the same in developing countries and now that it has been traced in India, saying that it originated here is wrong,” he said.

Dr Sarman Singh, professor of laboratory medicine, AIIMS, said finding such organisms is a routine matter amongst those admitted in hospitals here and in certain cases doctors have achieved success in treating patients with such complaints.

Dr Shanta Nagarajan, microbiology department head at Rockland Hospital said that the two common bacteria E Coli and Pneumoniae being resistant to antibiotics is a known phenomenon worldwide. She said that research work has already been undertaken in the country to detect such isolated cases and find out the solution to it.

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