AMR Social Science launched to provide solutions to antimicrobial resistance

6 March 2020
Addressing a critical global health concern
A new program within the Marie Bashir Institute has been launched to undertake research into understanding and providing innovative social solutions to the global challenge of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

Antibiotic resistance will lead to progressively worsening health, economic and social costs in the coming decades. Effective strategies for governing antimicrobial use will be essential to curb the rise of multi-resistant organisms and preserve the viability of existing antibiotics.

AMR Social Science, a new research node within the University of Sydney’s Marie Bashir Institute, launched this week. The node is dedicated to understanding how different social, political and economic contexts shape local antimicrobial practices and the perpetuation of resistance across context and cultures.

The launch of the node and associated workshop titled The Social Life of Antimicrobials: Practices, Economies, Contexts and Futures, attracted experts from around Australia and abroad, specialising in areas ranging from anthropology, bioethics, political science, history, veterinary medicine, and infectious diseases. 

The launch is a product of over a decade of work on AMR social science, receiving over $10 million in government and industry investment thus far for social innovations to help combat this critical global problem.  

A paper, just published in the international journal Critical Public Health, outlines the node’s agenda for reconceptualising AMR as a social problem, not just a medical crisis.

Under the leadership of Professor Alex Broom, along with Dr Katherine Kenny and Dr Sarah Bernays, the node will further leverage the University’s capacity to lead national and global solutions to the critical challenge of AMR. It will build on the strengths of experts from the arts, humanities and social sciences, as well researchers from public health and other areas across the University and beyond.

“Our aim is to bring a social science perspective to developing real-world solutions to the seemingly intractable and accelerating problem of resistance,” said node leader, Professor Alex Broom.

“Along with biological and biomedical innovation, tackling AMR requires sustained engagement with social, cultural, economic and political dynamics.”

Professor Broom also emphasised the importance of AMR Social Science in utilising cutting-edge social science techniques to help identify factors and promote strategies for the sustainable use of antimicrobials.

“The team are working toward better understandings of the multidimensional and escalating problem of antimicrobial resistance across nations and cultures and developing more effective approaches to antimicrobial stewardship through innovative social models of practice and practice change.”

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