Jessica Mitchell, Post-Doc on the new Community Engagement for Antimicrobial Resistance project takes us through the launch of the CE4AMR network in Nepal last month.
The Changing the Story and Community Engagement for Antimicrobial Resistance project team recently returned from Nepal after co-hosting an interdisciplinary workshop on the use of community engagement methods to tackle global health challenges such as Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR). The term Antimicrobial Resistance refers to the process of microorganisms including bacteria evolving mechanisms to survive the drugs designed to destroy them. Although AMR occurs naturally, it is accelerating on a global scale due to the misuse and overuse of antibiotics in the healthcare, veterinary and agricultural sectors. Multiple infections can no longer be controlled by common antimicrobial drugs, and the scale of this challenge has been compared to that of climate change. As such, AMR is a pressing Global issue that requires immediate, cross-disciplinary attention.
The Community Engagement for Antimicrobial Resistance project launched last month with a three–day CE4AMR19 event in Kathmandu, Nepal, focusing on the opportunities and challenges of applying community engagement and participatory methods to AMR, underpinned by CE4AMR’s guiding principle that “If communities are fully informed and engaged with the concept of AMR then subsequent AMR behaviour change will be meaningful and sustainable, allowing global AMR objectives to be met.” Co-hosted by Nepali-based NGO, HERD international, this workshop brought together like-minded researchers who are combining tackling Global Health with creative methodologies that would have traditionally only been used within the Social Sciences or Arts and Humanities fields. The event brought together delegates from fields as disparate as graphic design to poultry farming made for diverse, and facilitated sometimes challenging, discussions around how to tackle the global AMR crisis. In spite of these challenging discussions, the importance of collaboration was highlighted as paramount to developing AMR interventions across geographical, political, social and cultural contexts.
The interactive nature of the workshop created a space for delegates to openly share their successes and failures and allowed for an honest dissection of the challenges around implementing community engagement methods in Global Health. Conversations acknowledged that methodologies are already diversifying across fields (design, anthropology) as a result of interdisciplinary collaborations which was overwhelmingly viewed as a positive development in that it enhanced the skill set of researchers and their ability to engage coherently with their community and wider stakeholders. For example, one participant said biologists are recognising that “using arts and humanities approaches is leading to the collection of better samples,” while another said that anthropologists appreciate that “using creative methods provides better insights than asking questions.” We viewed these comments as supportive evidence for interdisciplinary workshops such as this one, and for the desire of researchers to work in diverse teams to tackle Global Health challenges, and although specific focus was placed on AMR, it was clear learnings from this workshop could be applied to a range of Global and One Health issues.
The CE4AMR team now have a much deeper understanding of the depth and breadth of community engagement methods for One Health challenges, and findings will be shared over the course of the summer. This marks the start of a two-year project to building a network of researchers and practitioners using community engagement in AMR, please see @CE4AMR for more details of this event or contact Jess (firstname.lastname@example.org) to join the network.