Join the Global Campaign - From people to leaders! Act on AMR NOW!

Why communities and civil society groups are key to the global AMR response

The upcoming High Level Meeting on AMR at the UN General Assembly in September 2024 presents a pivotal opportunity to address the pressing issue of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), identified by the WHO as one of the ten threats to global health.

As world leaders convene to discuss strategies and solutions, it is imperative that the involvement of communities and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in the global AMR response is given full recognition and prioritized as a key component of any effective plan moving forward.

Village Health Workers prepare prescriptions of bactrum, an antibiotic given to patients on antiretroviral therapy (ART), at a health center in southwestern Malawi. © 2012 Victoria A Smith, Courtesy of Photoshare.
Village Health Workers prepare prescriptions of bactrum, an antibiotic given to patients on antiretroviral therapy (ART), at a health center in southwestern Malawi. © 2012 Victoria A Smith, Courtesy of Photoshare.

AMR, the ability of microorganisms to resist the effects of antimicrobial drugs, poses a significant threat to global health, food security, and development. The misuse and overuse of antibiotics in human health, animal agriculture, and the environment have accelerated the emergence and spread of drug-resistant pathogens, leading to increased morbidity, mortality, and healthcare costs worldwide.

One crucial aspect of tackling AMR is the adoption of a bottom-up approach that actively involves communities and civil society organisations (CSOs) in the development and implementation of AMR strategies. These grassroots organizations have a deep understanding of local contexts, challenges, and opportunities, making them uniquely positioned to contribute to the global AMR response in meaningful ways.

Firstly, CSOs can play a vital role in raising awareness about AMR and promoting responsible antibiotic use among communities. Through education campaigns, workshops, and community outreach programs, CSOs can help individuals understand the risks associated with antibiotic misuse and encourage them to adopt appropriate practices.

Secondly, involving communities and CSOs in the global AMR response ensures that the voices and experiences of those most affected by drug-resistant infections are heard and taken into account. Communities, particularly those in low- and middle-income countries, often bear the brunt of the AMR burden, facing limited access to quality healthcare, inadequate sanitation, and a lack of resources to combat the problem. By engaging these communities in the decision-making process and incorporating their perspectives into AMR strategies, policymakers can develop more targeted and effective interventions that address the specific needs and challenges faced by these populations.

Furthermore, CSOs working on health and development issues have valuable expertise and networks that can be leveraged to strengthen the global AMR response. These organizations often have established relationships with local healthcare providers, government agencies, and other stakeholders, which can facilitate the implementation of AMR interventions and the sharing of best practices.

Recognizing the importance of community and CSO involvement in the global AMR response, the upcoming High Level Meeting on AMR at the UN General Assembly must prioritize this issue and take concrete steps to support and facilitate their participation.

This could include:
• Providing funding and technical assistance to CSOs working on AMR-related initiatives;
• Creating platforms for dialogue and knowledge exchange between grassroots organizations and policymakers; and
• Ensuring that community voices are represented in the development and implementation of national and international AMR action plans.

Moreover, the High Level Meeting should encourage governments and international organizations to adopt a participatory approach to AMR policymaking, actively seeking input and collaboration from communities and CSOs at all stages of the process, including governance mechanism. By fostering a more inclusive and transparent decision-making environment, the global AMR response can benefit from the diverse perspectives, experiences, and expertise of these key stakeholders, leading to more effective and sustainable solutions.

Through collaboration, knowledge sharing, and a commitment to inclusive policymaking, we can work towards a future where the threat of AMR is minimized, and access to safe and effective antimicrobial treatments is ensured for all.

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