New Delhi: Indiscreet prescribing of antibiotics is one of the major causes of microbial resistance in the country, Minister of State for Health S P Singh Baghel told Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.

The National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) conducted a point prevalence survey (PPS) on antibiotic use at 20 tertiary care government hospitals (NAC-NET sites).

This study was conducted amongst 9,653 eligible patients admitted to these 20 hospitals, Baghel said in a written reply.

The survey found that 71.9 per cent of the patients received antibiotics.

Of those who were prescribed antibiotics, 54.8 per cent received antibiotics for prophylactic indications (surgical prophylaxis 37.3 per cent and medical prophylaxis 17.5 per cent).

“Indiscreet prescribing of antibiotics is one of the major causes of microbial resistance in the country,” he said.

The Union health ministry has initiated several initiatives to promote judicious use of antimicrobials.

The ministry launched the Red Line awareness campaign on antimicrobial resistance, urging people not to use medicines marked with a red vertical line, including antibiotics, without a doctor’s prescription.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has released treatment guidelines for antimicrobial use in common syndromes in which guidelines for the use of antibiotics for viral bronchitis and low-grade fever antibiotics are included in Schedule H and H1 of the Drugs Rules, 1945.

These drugs have specific caution labelling requirements and are sold only under the prescription of a registered medical practitioner.

The supply of a drug specified in Schedule H1 is recorded in a separate register and such records, which are maintained for three years, are open for inspection.

The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) has placed 24 hi-end antimicrobials under schedule H1 by issuing notification, Baghel stated.