20th April 2020

Various interventions and analyses that aim to address antibiotic use begin from the premise of ‘individual behaviour’. What gets missed in these approaches is how underlying issues that promote widespread use of antibiotics are often political and structural: inequality and marginalisation...

“In 2019, we wrote an article suggesting that antibiotics have become a ‘quick fix’ in our modern societies. They are a quick fix for care in fractured health systems; a quick fix for productivity at local and global scales, for humans, animals and crops; a quick fix for hygiene in settings of minimised resources; and a quick fix for inequality in landscapes scarred by political and economic violence.

Taking ‘individual behaviour’ and a ‘lack of knowledge’ as the starting point for interventions has the effect of making apolitical what is in fact deeply political, obscuring how long-standing inequality and structural violence shapes environments, landscapes of care, access to infrastructures, and the availability of good health services.

As health policy makers, we can do better than this. We must include analyses of structural violence, inequality and inequity into our interventions and work. If we are to take AMR as a One Health problem, action on AMR cannot rely only on interventions based on isolated individuals and their so-called ‘bad behaviours’.”

By Laurie Denyer Willis, AMIS member and Research Fellow at the Department of Politics and international Studies at the University of Cambridge, (@ldenyerwillis), and Clare I.R. Chandler, Associate Professor in Medical Anthropology in the Department of Global Health and Development at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

Art by Dulce Pedroso

For further discussion, see Chandler 2019 and Will 2019.

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