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Story Publication logo February 28, 2012

A Global Crisis in the Making: Super-resistant Bacteria, Medical Tourism and India's Poor

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English

Bacterial infections impervious to the world's most powerful antibiotics—endowed with the superbug...

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Image by Sonia Shah. India, 2012.

India, which manufactures 30 percent of the global supply of antibiotics, has seen a significant increase in the consumption of these medications, which are widely available here without a prescription. India needs antibiotics to treat countless instances of bacterial infections in the country. But easy access to antibiotics has enabled rampant misuse. This in turn has led to the emergence of the superbug "NDM-1"--impervious to even the world's most powerful antibiotics. NDM-1 has now spread to 35 countries. One of the ways these super-resistant bacteria make their way out of Indian hospitals is through medical tourism. Tourists coming to India for cheap medical treatments are exposed to NDM-1 and later ferry the infections into their home countries.

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