Community Engagement: An innovative approach to tackle AMR

Credit: HERD International

This blog is part of our Community Engagement For Antimicrobial Resistance (CE4AMR) blog series following the CE4AMR summer workshop in Nepal.  This interdisciplinary meeting looked at how community engagement and participatory arts methodologies can tackle major health challenges including antimicrobial resistance (AMR). We’ll hear from delegates from across the Arts, Humanities, Medical, Anthropological, and Social and Environmental science spheres.  All share their experiences of the workshop, and how they use creative methodology in their own research/practice.

Written by Miriam Kayendeke, Social Scientist at the Antimicrobials in Society Programme, Infectious Diseases Research Collaboration, Kampala, Uganda

This year in June, I was privileged to participate in an international workshop organised by the University of Leeds and HERD international in Nepal. It was my first time to Nepal. I was excited to experience this new place – the culture, and mostly the tasty and spicy food I had heard about. I must say Nepal exceeded my expectations. It is such a great place to live. Not only do the people have a warm temperament, but the climate too is amazing. It is warm, almost like Uganda.  Travelling to the little village of Nargakot was quite a unique experience. As the bus wound through the steep and hilly ranges, I could not help but  enjoy the spectacular scenery of the green and woody Himalaya, the valley with rice fields and men working them, the far gaze into the Mt. Everest fading into misty skies, the wooden and corrugated iron cottages – far and near, the few shops and mini trading centres, the military installation, the small numbers of domestic animals grazing in the fields, school children trotting, local busses and trucks hissing along – all this contrasting with storied buildings set up as hotels. Through my hotel window, I witnessed the mist unveil the ranges just below us – and most amazingly, unveiling the Mt. Everest. Sights and sounds of Nagarkot only left me yearning for more to experience this oneness with nature.  

Credit: HERD International

Diving into the actual workshop, I was pleased with the attendance and the multidisciplinary nature of the delegates.  What caught my attention at inception was how engaged the political and technical wing of Nepal was at this event. A key highlight for any researcher is achieving this hard solicited buy-in. Signing the solidarity pact symbolised unity in this battle. Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) is a real threat! At this workshop, AMR was portrayed as ‘Globally rising with need for Immediate Action’. The concern though was the burden this crisis can cause in Low and Middle income countries, where the majority of the population live on less than a dollar a day; with healthcare systems greatly underfunded. Everyone here shared a deep passion as I, to create sustainable measures to combat AMR. Each of us was actively engaged in group work and lightening talks, where our innovative and interesting research approaches were discussed. All approaches seemed simple but not simplistic. They each yielded significant processes and information that can be benchmarked for policy influence. Some of the approaches that struck me included; Community dialogues, Science education and public engagement, Community health clubs, Positive deviance, Community Arts (film, comics), Theatre and Storytelling. I appreciate that Community Engagement for AMR has potential to address contexts of behaviour and the multiple realities of AMR. As a Social scientist currently utilising Anthropological approaches to the study of Antimicrobials in Society – under the Antimicrobials in Society Programme in Uganda, such spaces are of interest to nurture and uplift potential innovative approaches to address public health challenges. A big thank you to all for such a fruitful event.