MSF observes World Antibiotic Awareness Week

Aditi Sonrexa/ MSF

The international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders / Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) will observe World Antibiotic Awareness Week (WAAW) from November 13th – 17th in collaboration with Ministry of Health and Asansol District Hospital in West Bengal.

As part of the activities of WAAW, MSF will participate in a rally on 13th November in collaboration with ANM Nursing School in Asansol district. On 16th November, MSF will conduct a workshop called ‘Antibiotic Resistance: Broader Implications for Humanity’ in Gupta College of Technological Sciences, Asansol seeking to bring together technical experts, medical students and government officials on a single platform for a discussion. A community-level awareness campaign for the local population will be conducted during the same week at Asansol district hospital premises.

Drug-resistant infections are a looming challenge for MSF’s work. We see them in war-wounded people in Jordan, in newborns in Niger, and in people in our burns units in Iraq. Our doctors have documented the presence of highly resistant bacteria such as ESBL, CRE and MRSA, in several of our projects and have recently started using last-line antibiotics such as polymyxin to treat multi-drug resistant gram negative bacteria. However, there is limited evidence of the drivers of antibiotic resistance as well as the prevalence of the problems, especially in countries like India, which is one of the largest consumers of antibiotics. Anecdotal evidence of irrational prescribing practices among doctors, unregulated over the counter access to medication, as well patients’ demand for antibiotics are found in plenty. However, this requires the collection of scientific evidence and more research in these areas in India.

Reflecting on the multifaceted and complex nature of antibiotics resistance, Leena Menghaney, South Asia Head of MSF’s Access Campaign, says ‘The need to monitor and address antibiotic resistance is urgent in resource-poor settings in developing countries like India. The challenge is to restrict the over-the-counter sale of broad-spectrum antibiotics while ensuring poor and marginalized people have access to essential antibiotics for life-threatening infections in a timely manner. At the same time we cannot ignore the role that surveillance and diagnostics can play in strengthening the response to antibiotics resistance in the community.’

“Antibiotic resistance is a major concern of overuse of antibiotics and this serious threat has the potential to affect anyone, of any age, in any country. Doctors, pharmacists and all of us should come forward to overcome this threat,” says Dr. Debashish Halder, Chief Medical Officer of Health, Paschim Bardhaman, West Bengal.

The World Antibiotics Awareness Week activities in Asansol will see a coming together of various key stakeholders to reaffirm their commitment in collectively addressing the problem of antibiotic resistance


About the project

Since 2015, MSF in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Asansol District Hospital, West Bengal has been working on developing tools, practices as well as knowledge that can contribute to policy level discussions on tackling antibiotic resistance.


For more information & interviews contact:

Kavitha Devadas

Communications Manager, MSF India / 9599076318



About Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières

MSF is an international, independent, medical humanitarian organisation that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural disasters and exclusion from healthcare in around 70 countries. MSF offers assistance to people based only on need and irrespective of race, religion, gender or political affiliation. MSF has been working in India since 1999, providing free-of-charge essential healthcare in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Manipur, Telangana and West Bengal. MSF received the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development in 1996 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999.

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