The story of ReAct started with a small group of people, one of them being professor Otto Cars, internationally renowned specialist in infectious diseases. His mission to wake the world up to the threat of antibiotic resistance started already in the 1990's. Otto Cars says:
“Already during my early years of clinical work in Sweden, my concern for the continuous ongoing emergence of antibiotic resistance and the non-sustainable use of antibiotics was increasing, Otto Cars says. When the problem of resistant bacteria continued to grow, he initiated in 1995 the formation of a national multidisciplinary group for the rational use of antibiotics and containment of resistance. The latter was developed into the Swedish nation-wide network Strama.”
“On the global level, leadership on the challenges from antibiotic resistance was weak”, he says.
The World Health Organization published a global strategy in 2001, but human and financial resources for its implementation were not provided. In 2004, Strama, IHCAR (Division of Global Health at Karolinska Institutet) and the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation, organized workshops with individuals from a diverse range of backgrounds and regions. These meetings were the starting point of what would become ReAct.
Initiated to be a global catalyst on antibiotic resistance
ReAct was initiated with the goal to be a global catalyst, advocating and stimulating for global engagement on the issue of antibiotic resistance by collaborating with a broad range of organizations, individuals and stakeholders. The idea was to bridge a medical and technical issue to broad social and political action.
“I am deeply impressed and very proud of the massive amount of positive engagement and work done by everyone involved in the ReAct network and by our friends and partners, often on a voluntary basis. This has been the foundation for the growth of the network and for our achievements”, Otto Cars concludes.
ReAct was started by a few concerned individuals that saw the need for global concerted action against antibiotic resistance.
Action on antibiotic resistance
Following a meeting in Uppsala, Sweden in 2005, ReAct formed an international secretariat and established its coordinating office at Uppsala University, hosted by the Department of Medical Sciences. ReAct successfully applied for funding from Sida, the Swedish International Development Agency in 2006 for a period of 5 years.
Five nodes working for action on antibiotic resistance
In the following years, more nodes were established, bringing us up to the five we have today. Each node in turn has a large contact network to draw upon, in their region and beyond. ReAct now catalyzes action on antibiotic resistance through a variety of means, including translation of scientific evidence to policy makers, helping develop national policy platforms and mobilizing civil society groups to take action on antibiotic resistance. Over the years, ReAct has been actively involved across a number of policy venues, both at national and global levels.
ReAct’s many years of work to raise awareness and increase the engagement for concerted action to antibiotic resistance has significantly contributed to many of the important initiatives that today are ongoing globally at different levels.
ReAct – year by year
2004 The idea of ReAct is born
2005 Funding from Sida, organization of core functions
ReAct initially had part-time employed staff in Sweden, Australia, India and the US who were responsible for five core functions: overall coordination, communication, evidence base, network and meetings, and strategic policy.
2006-2010 Five key objectives
ReAct started working towards five key objectives that still remain relevant today.
- increasing awareness,
- identifying and removing critical evidence gap,
- removing barriers to innovation,
- advocating for better access to antibiotics and
- promoting a paradigm shift on how we view antibiotics.
2007 Latin America office established
A local office with part time employed staff was established in Cuenca, Ecuador.
2010 South East Asia network initiated
Through the then global network coordinator Mary Murray and Satya Sivaraman a network of ABR champions in South East Asia was established and a coordinator appointed.
2010 ReAct Global Conference
In September 2010, the conference “Global Need for Effective Antibiotics – moving towards concerted action” was held in Uppsala, Sweden.
Through an additional grant from Sida, in 2012, ReAct’s Civil Society Organisation (CSO) project was launched in three regions; South East Asia, Ghana and Latin America. The project aimed to build capacity and raise awareness about the holistic view on ABR
2013 ReAct reorganizes
Beginning in 2013, ReAct went through a major reorganizational process together with a consultant in strategic capacity building and with input from external expert advisors.
The outcome of the process was a decision to move from centralized steering by the ReAct office in Uppsala to decentralized steering by the so called nodes or regional offices. This also meant strengthening capacity at the offices in Asia Pacific and Latin and North America.
2014 New structure of ReAct initiated
As Otto Cars, the founder of ReAct stepped down as Executive Director of ReAct as of Jan 1st 2014, a new governance structure was put in place. ReAct formed a Global Leadership Group (GLG) consisting of the heads of all nodes plus Otto, who remained with the organization as a senior advisor.
2014 ReAct Africa is formed
In 2014, following intense work to sensitise key changemakers in African countries to the issue of ABR, the ReAct Africa node was formed at a meeting in Nairobi. Mirfin Mpundu was elected as the first coordinator and the node is hosted at the Ecumenical Pharmaceutical Network.
2015 The three programmatic areas of ReAct
In 2015, with the much strengthened awareness of antibiotic resistance globally, ReAct reformulated its work into three program areas and subsequently received funding from Sida for the period 2015-2018. The three areas of work are:
- Generation and Translation of Evidence (GATE) – coordinated by ReAct Europe hosted by Uppsala University
- Strategic Policy – coordinated by ReAct North America, hosted then by Duke University
- Engagement, Empowerment and Network Extension (EEE) – coordinated by the three regional nodes, ReAct Latin America hosted by the Child to Child foundation and the University of Azuay, ReAct Africa hosted by the Ecumenical Pharmaceutical Network and ReAct South East Asia, then hosted by University Sains Malaysia.
2016 Change of host organizations for ReAct North America and ReAct Asia Pacific
In 2016, the ReAct North America node changed host organisation to Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, US. ReAct South East Asia changed name to ReAct Asia Pacific, with a new coordinator, Dr. Sujith Chandy. The node will tentatively be hosted by CMC Vellore, India.