The New Delhi Superbug is one of the raging debates internationally. It further gained currency when a women in Reno, Nevada died earlier this year from this rare bacterial infection. According to the Washoe County health authorities, she picked up a variant of a germ called Klebsiella pneumoniae, probably while she was treated in India for a leg fracture and hip infection. The tests that were conducted found this bacterium resistant to 26 antibiotics. There was just no antibiotic that could stop the progress of the bacterium.
Infact the World Health Organization calls antibiotic resistance “one of the biggest threats to global health.” According to a report released by them last year, superbugs will kill 10 million people a year by 2050. But the point to note here is this report does not specify just the New Delhi superbug but a plethora of bacteria that gets transmitted during travel, especially air travel.
What I find very disconcerting about the progress of this story is that Indian media, Indian experts are surprisingly silent about the overall development of the superbug saga. Most times it is a blind reprint of all that is being discussed and debated by the western media.
There are only just a couple of contrarian views who have tried to establish the slightest link between the booming tourism industry in India and the scare mongering that could put a brake on it. This is particularly important gven the fact that the country is seeing 22-25% growth in medical tourism and the industry expects this to double to $6 billion by 2018 from the current $3 billion.
But at the same time it can’t be denied that the average healthcare facility in Government establishments are far from satisfactory across India. This is perhaps the wake up call for Indian Governments to start improving the quality of basic healthcare that is provided in Indian hospitals. Most people who can afford avoid the the Government hospital due to the poor hygiene and lack of facilities. Why do ministers never go to Government hospitals?
While the super bugs debate needs a lot more clarity in terms of India’s role and its rising menace, the Government also needs to pay heed to the need to enhance healthcare facilities for common people. Meanwhile the Indian media has to play a primary role in bringing forth a balanced perspective instead of fanning mindless rumour mongering.