News and Opinions  –  2024

New Report: Impactful approaches for community-wide engagement on antibiotic resistance

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2024-01-31

In the fall of 2023, ReAct, Uppsala Antibiotic Center and Antibiotic Smart Sweden initiated a webinar and workshop series for promoting a systematic and meaningful engagement of communities and civil society groups as key stakeholders in the global response to antibiotic resistance. Now the collaboration releases a summary report from the initiative this far.

Social media card for the report. Click to download report.
Click image to download the Summary Report of the Community Engagement Series (PDF, 0,9 MB)

The summary report “Impactful approaches for community-wide engagement on antibiotic resistance” summarizes key ideas from the discussions between participants at a hybrid workshop held in Uppsala, Sweden and online on 29 November 2023 and two previous webinars.

Five key take-away messages for community engagement

  1. A clearer narrative on community engagement and antibiotic resistance is required to achieve meaningful change.
  2. Effective strategies for impactful community engagement should be contextualized and built on national and local analysis, targeting governments and including citizens as part of the solutions.
  3. Embed a One Health approach in community engagement and integrate antibiotic resistance in other established health agendas and interventions to ensure inclusion of different fields and related agendas and community ownership of the solutions.
  4. The integration of antibiotic resistance into health programs and National Action Plans must include co-creation of solutions between policymakers, communities and civil society, and foster both top-down and bottom-up approaches.
  5. The Political Declaration of the upcoming High-Level Meeting (HLM) of the UN General Assembly on Antimicrobial Resistance should reflect the importance of community engagement and ensure meaningful civil society and community engagement. This includes fair representations in governance structures and the decision-making process as well as the co-creation of community-led solutions.

Andrea Caputo Svensson, Global Health Advisor, ReAct Europe says:

“Civil society and communities are important actors in holding stakeholders accountable and identifying solutions that meet their specific needs. It is key they are included in decision-making, governance and delivery of services. However, community representatives with the potential to anchor initiatives addressing antibiotic resistance and create bottom-up action are often not mobilized, resulting in missed opportunities.”

Four challenges and their potential solutions

The report also summarizes discussions on four challenges and their potential solutions for a stronger and meaningful community engagement on antibiotic resistance:

  • Difficulties to show a direct return on investment for community engagement initiatives, which discourages donors’ and governments’ investments in this area, especially long-term investments.
  • Lack of targeted advocacy efforts towards policymakers to include citizens as part of the solution and understand and acknowledge the importance of community engagement.
  • Lack of integration of antibiotic resistance in existing health programs at the community level, including in national and subnational frameworks.
  • Lack of understanding of antibiotic resistance, specifically lack of community-friendly narratives.

Among solutions suggested are to create a strong investment case for community engagement that showcase the power of communities and impact of interventions; Capitalizing on existing community engagement efforts both within and beyond the antibiotic resistance field to strengthen advocacy and; Integrating antibiotic resistance in other public health issues using both top-down and bottom-up approaches and where co-creation is considered from the outset.

Road to UNGA High-Level Meeting on AMR

The report also provides ideas for the road towards the 2024 United Nation General Assembly HLM on AMR from a civil society and community perspective.

In relation to this, and other policy processes, participants argued that it is key to move beyond awareness, away from unidirectional top-down approaches where community engagement means to inform the community. Instead we should move towards bottom-up approaches with co-creation of community-led solutions and fair participation. Participants also argued that the Political Declaration from the meeting should specify actionable and concrete steps on community engagement that will require global action.

Next steps

Several ideas were shared by the participants on the next steps including:

1. Broader civil society engagement, such as through a petition to ask for a multi stakeholders hearing for AMR at the UN HLM, using the AMR multi-stakeholder partnership platform and an establishment of a civil society and community engagement mechanism for the HLM.

2. Strengthening bottom-up approaches, for instance by creating an civil society community of practice on antimicrobial resistance and creating an evidence base for value of community engagement in terms of health and economic outcomes.

3. Joint advocacy efforts, such as for domestic investment in antibiotic resistance at national level and asking for National Action Plans on AMR to address community engagement.

Social media card for the report. Click to download report.
Click image to download the Summary Report of the Community Engagement Series.

The summary report Impactful approaches for community-wide engagement on antibiotic resistance”

summarizes key ideas from the discussions between participants at a hybrid workshop held in Uppsala, Sweden and online on 29 November 2023 and two previous webinars.

Supplementary materials Community Engagement Workshop November 2023 (PDF)

The initiative is supported with funding from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), Uppsala University (including from the Undergraduate and Master’s Education Committee at the Faculty of Medicine (GRUNK)), and Vinnova.