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India rejects superbug linkage

Aarti Dhar

NEW DELHI: India has reacted strongly to a study linking a multiple drug-resistant superbug detected in Britain to India and said the bacteria are not a public health threat.

It said Indian hospitals were safe as a number of such bacteria survived in nature and were reported from several other countries.

The conclusions of the study are “loaded with inference'' that the antibiotic-resistant organism possibly originated in India, an official statement by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said here on Thursday.

“While such organisms may be circulating more commonly in the world due to international travel, to link it with the safety of surgery hospitals in India and citing isolated examples to show that India is not a safe place to visit due to the presence of such organism in Indian environment are wrong,” V.M. Katoch, Director-General, Indian Council of Medical Research, said here.

Several authors had declared a conflict of interest in the publication of the study. The study was funded by the European Union and two pharmaceutical companies — Wellcome Trust and Wyeth — that produce antibiotics for treatment of such cases, the statement said.

The government also strongly objected to the naming of this enzyme as New Delhi metallo beta lactamase -1 (NDM-1) and refuted the conclusion that hospitals in India were not safe for treatment.

Admitting that such news reports were likely to dent the prospects of medical tourism in the country, Dr. Katoch said correct reporting by the media should inform the people and set the matter right. “Indian hospitals are world class and follow the best practices,” Dr. Katoch said.

Though not disputing the validity of the study, he said the conclusions were “unfair” and “scary.” The conclusions and interpretations of the study were wrong, scientifically invalid and aimed at creating a scare.

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