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'Just Transitions to mitigate antimicrobial resistance' is a multidisciplinary social science and humanities programme funded by the British Academy. Led by Dr Sonia Lewycka and Professor Phaik Yeong Cheah, its team of 20 researchers will convene global and regional dialogues, engaging with key stakeholders to co-create equitable and sustainable solutions to manage antimicrobial resistance.

Action photo from a group discussion of the project

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is among the most significant global health concerns of our time. In 2019, 1.27 million deaths were attributed to resistant bacterial infections, and by 2050, it is predicted AMR will cost upwards of $100USD trillion, accounting for 10 million deaths worldwide. Antimicrobial resistance transcends borders, affecting communities in every region of the world. Poor and marginalized populations are among the most impacted by AMR, yet global discourse on policies and solutions often overlooks the challenges faced in these settings. Containing the spread of AMR, and avoiding a future where antimicrobials no longer work and common infections become potentially lethal, will require urgent and system-wide change. 

Just Transitions for AMR brings together social science and humanities researchers from diverse backgrounds and differentially affected regions to discuss what a just and equitable transition will mean for containing and mitigating AMR. Led by Dr Sonia Lewycka and Professor Phaik Yeong Cheah from the University of Oxford, the project centres around ‘Just Transitions’, a conceptual framework developed by the International Labour Organisation to guide climate action.

The Just Transitions for AMR programme will explore how it could be adapted and used in the context of AMR, as well as how synergies with climate action and Nature-based Solutions could be leveraged. The Just Transitions framework represents a different way of approaching systemic change, placing importance on effective social dialogue as a way to minimize challenges and maximize social and economic opportunities.

‘Our aim is to mobilise the power of interdisciplinary thinking and multiple perspectives to develop a Just Transitions framework for AMR, opening new avenues of enquiry that allow us to identify and define what will be needed to mitigate AMR while also minimizing its negative impact on health, ecosystems, the economy and society’ explains Lewycka. ‘AMR is not simply a biological phenomenon, but a complex social problem’ and ‘meeting this challenge will require innovative methodologies but also global coordination and mobilisation of resources’.

Thus far, research on AMR has focused on technology development, surveillance and evaluation, with little consideration given to the broader social drivers of AMR.

The ‘Just Transitions for AMR’ project will reframe AMR in social terms, transforming how governments and societies collectively respond to this global problem. Alongside its core team of researchers, key stakeholders (policy makers, civil society groups, intergovernmental organizations, local community leaders, industry) will also be actively engaged and involved in the co-creation of knowledge, that will then be fed directly into global AMR policy discourse. Six global meetings will be convened at the British Academy over the three-year project period with regional dialogues in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The ‘Just Transitions for AMR’ project is supported by the British Academy and was one of three projects awarded £1.5 million under the new Global Convening programmes.

Just Transitions for AMR Programme members

Sonia Lewycka, University of Oxford, Vietnam/UK

Phaik Yeong Cheah, University of Oxford, Thailand/UK

Calvin Ho, University of Hong Kong

Marina Joubert, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

Edna Mutua, KEMRI-Wellcome Trust, Kenya

Pablo Imbach, Head of Climate Action Unit, CATIE – Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center, Costa Rica

Susan Bull, University of Auckland, New Zealand

Sheila Varadan, University of Leiden, the Netherlands

Sassy Molyneux, University of Oxford, UK

Caesar Atuire, University of Ghana, Ghana

Claas Kirchhelle, University College Dublin, Ireland

Kym Weed, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA

Steve Hinchliffe, Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health, University of Exeter, UK

Mo Yin, National University of Singapore, Singapore

Nenene Qekwana, University of Pretoria, South Africa

Clare Chandler, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK

Deepshikha Batheja, One Health Trust, India

Syed Masud Ahmed, Centre of Excellence for Health Systems and Universal Health Coverage (CoEHSUHC), BRAC University, Bangladesh

René Gerrets, Amsterdam Institute of Global Health and Development, the Netherlands

Sander Chan, Radboud University, the Netherlands