Movement building in practice
Coalitions, communities of practice and movements are strengthened and extended to address antibiotic resistance through narratives and action that contribute to universal health coverage, poverty reduction, food justice and environmental sustainability.
Structural and systematic change across the health, agricultural and environmental sectors over the last two decades, such as the global response to HIV and AIDS and the Paris climate change accords, have only been possible because of extensive, global mobilization of civil society.
It is unlikely that the current low-intensity response to antibiotic resistance can be expanded without a similar civil society mobilization. Unlike HIV/ AIDS or cancer, antibiotic resistance is not a disease and does not have dedicated patient organizations. Lack of data to document the severity of the problem and the complexity of the issue likely also contribute to the lack of a dedicated civil society movement.
Over the last five years some coalitions, communities and movements to address antibiotic resistance have emerged, including the Antibiotic Resistance Coalition (ARC), which was initiated with support from ReAct. Yet groups like this are few and far between, and are not yet of a size which sufficiently can respond to the multi-dimensional and global challenge that antibiotic resistance represents.
Multiple international organizations point to the lack of civil society engagement as one of the key threats to a long-term effective response to antibiotic resistance, including as actors that can drive change in behavior and social norms.
Furthermore, without effective civil society mobilization and participation, any response, whether robust or weak, will risk not taking into account the particular challenges that local communities face. This includes lack of access to basic health care and how antibiotic resistance negatively affects structural issues such as poverty, food justice and the environment.
By developing evidence-based narratives on how areas such as food justice, poverty reduction, the environment and universal health coverage are intimately tied to and impacted by antibiotic resistance, ReAct can encourage and inspire movements, organizations, individuals, professional societies and experts working on these issues to start addressing antibiotic resistance in their spheres of work.
As more organizations, movements and communities start to engage upon antibiotic resistance, ReAct will seek to use existing or create new forums that can facilitate the building of strategic connections and collective mobilization to address antibiotic resistance across sectors.
Finally, as the breadth of organizations working on antibiotic resistance grows and starts to formulate effective approaches to address the issue, governments, industry and international organizations will come under increased pressure to adopting solutions reflecting these inter-sectoral perspectives. The broader engagement by civil society will be crucial to holding key stakeholders true to the adopted principles, perspectives and commitments.
Concerns of low- and middle-income countries countries and their particular public health priorities are amplified in global and national level discussions.
Movements, communities and civil society groups working across multiple sectors can provide effective oversight of key actors and influence antibiotic resistance policy and practice.