The Current

Antibiotic-resistant superbugs could begin a global epidemic beyond India

Those tracking superbugs are raising concerns about what they see in India, where tens-of-thousands of newborns are dying of antibiotic-resistant infections. Critics in health care say that a rampant and irresponsible use of antibiotics has now rendered significant amounts of bacteria immune to the drugs and the world could be entering a Post-Antibiotic Era....
Those tracking superbugs are raising concerns about what they see in India, where tens-of-thousands of newborns are dying of antibiotic-resistant infections. Critics in health care say that a rampant and irresponsible use of antibiotics has now rendered significant amounts of bacteria immune to the drugs and the world could be entering a Post-Antibiotic Era. 



The first cries of a newborn often bring out tears of joy and relief from tired, worried parents. In India today, however, a healthy birth is no longer a guarantee of a long and healthy life.

Bacterial infections are claiming the lives of more and more Indian newborns. A study published in the medical journal The Lancet found that last year nearly 60,000 babies died soon after birth... and it's not due to a lack of antibiotic drugs.

These children are dying of antibiotic-resistant infections. The tried-and-tested drugs are no longer working. And so-called "superbugs" are being blamed. What's more, doctors fear these antibiotic-resistant superbugs could represent the beginning of a global epidemic, spreading far outside India's borders.

Dr. Neelam Kler is chair of the Department of Neonatology at Sir Ganga Ram hospital. We reached her in New Delhi.

It is clearly crucial that more be understood about the so-called superbugs responsible for the premature deaths of children in New Delhi, and across India. And that's especially true knowing that in an increasingly interconnected world, there's no such thing as a local disease.

For more on what we do know about these superbugs, and their potential for health globally, we were joined by Timothy Walsh. He's a professor of microbiology at Cardiff University in Wales.


Tell us what you think of this story - how concerned are you about the overuse of antibiotics?

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This segment was produced by The Current's Pacinthe Mattar and Leif Zapfe-Gilje.


Music Legend Uppalapu Srinivas

We've been speaking about Superbugs... and especially the effect they seem to be having on newborn children in India. However, it's not only the very young that are at risk.

This past September, one of India's most famous musicians died because of an infection that doctors could not cure.... and a superbug is being blamed. Uppalapu Srinivas was 45 years old. He was considered one of the true living legends of Indian music.

He played the mandolin -- an unusual instrument for Indian classical music, but one that he used to create his own unique style. This is from his 1989 record, "Mandolin Magic."

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