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There Is a Bug in Therapy

National pride is not what matters, the abuse of antibiotics is the issue.

A section of India’s medical establishment has been going to great lengths to promote the country as a destination for medical tourists. The effort has been successful: in 2002 over 1.5 lakh medical tourists travelled to India, bringing in earnings of $300 million. Since then, the number of such travellers has been increasing by at least 25% every year.

The recent report on the “super bug” in the journal The Lancet has come as a spoiler for this industry. The report focuses on an enzyme that makes bacteria resistant to the strongest antibiotics. It rang alarm bells by tracing the origin of the enzyme to south Asia. “The enzyme is actively present in countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and is carried to England and Europe by patients, who come to either of these countries for cheaper treatment”, The Lancet report states. And to make the picture scarier, the scientists who wrote the report named the recalcitrant enzyme, New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase-1 (NDM-1).

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