ReAct Latin America: Antimicrobial Resistance, Infectious Diseases and Solidarity with Communities and Ecosystems
Since 2006, ReAct Latin America has developed a network of committed adults and children in communities and academia, who take concerted action on antibiotic resistance at local, regional and national levels in Central and South America. ReAct Latin America particularly focuses on creating open dialogues and forging links between health professionals, researchers, artists, ecologists and environmentalists to change the paradigm of antibiotic resistance away from the prevailing war metaphor.
‘Reimagining Resistance’ – deepen understanding of world of microbes
ReAct Latin America works to foster new collective ways of thinking with a social and ecological perspective. ‘Reimagining Resistance’ has grown out of this approach as a long-term project, which aims to increase human understanding and deepen the appreciation of the invisible and fascinating world of microbes. Ultimately, by making people more aware and sensitive to the human-microbe relationship and increasing the understanding of infectious diseases and the effects of antibiotics, “Reimagining Resistance” aims to address the underlying social, economic and cultural causes of irrational use of antibiotics.
Children as researchers and advocators
One of ReAct Latin America’s most significant projects has been the inclusion of children as advocates for change to increase knowledge of antimicrobial resistance and microbial life among other children, their families and communities. Based on the ‘Child to Child’ approach, React Latin America and the Child to Child Centre has developed a major educational program for children called Alforja Educativa (Educational knapsack).
ReAct Latin America’s Framework for Action
The International Seminar on Antibiotic Resistance held in Cuenca, Ecuador in June 2008 was a key event in shaping the overall direction for ReAct Latin America’s work in the region. The event gathered participants from 22 countries including representatives of PAHO, infectious diseases experts, representatives of health professionals, women and indigenous rights groups, community-based groups and networks from across the continent.
This meeting concluded with the Cuenca Declaration (PDF, 1MB), which became the framework for action for ReAct Latin America.
ReAct Latin America encourages people to actively participate in their work and activities to increase understanding how the individual contribution is part of the solution. In November 2012, the Caravan for Bacteria and Life, a colorful street march was held in Cuenca to raise awareness about antibiotic resistance, the dangers of self-medication with antibiotics and the importance of bacterial contribution to human life. By involving people in making yogurt and other fermented traditional foods, people engaged in a discussion of the role of bacteria in health and disease.
Research and training
ReAct Latin America has developed a program curriculum for primary health care workers in collaboration with the PAHO and a number of other universities called the International Program of Research and Training in Human Resources in Comprehensive Primary Health Care with emphasis on Prevalent Infectious Diseases and Containment of Antimicrobial Resistance.
This curriculum is offered open access and serves as a guide for training initiatives amongst a number of universities in Ecuador.
Holistic vision – ‘Sumak Kawsay’ or ‘Living Well’
Placing antibiotic resistance in an ecosystems context has found special resonance in the Andean region where indigenous groups have long promoted a holistic vision of life called ‘Sumak Kawsay’ or ‘Living Well’. Most recently, ReAct Latin America joined other networks in the region to develop this vision further culminating in the Cochabamba Declaration.
ReAct Latin America’s outreach and social mobilization work is also complemented by research activities. Previous research has produced data on the social determinants of antibiotic resistance; perceptions of the caretakers of children under five with acute respiratory infections and antibiotic use; the perceptions, attitudes and practice among community leaders in rural areas of Ecuador on the use of antibiotics, especially in relation to use in animals; the knowledge, perceptions and practices of antibiotic use by physicians in hospital and community care; and a study of ESBL-carriers in a neonatal intensive care unit at a tertiary hospital.
Please, do not hesitate to contact ReAct Latin America if you have further questions, need help or would like to cooperate.
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