Power to the people: citizen-generated data will unlock solutions to antimicrobial resistance
Between November 18 and 24, the world celebrated World Antimicrobial Awareness Week, a week to increase awareness of global antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and to encourage best practices to avoid further emergence and spread of drug-resistant infections. What is AMR? AMR occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites resist the effects of medications, making common infections harder to treat and increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness, and death. Multiple factors – including overuse of medicines in humans, livestock, and agriculture, as well as poor access to clean water and sanitation – have accelerated the threat of antimicrobial resistance worldwide. The cost of AMR to the economy is significant. In addition to death and disability, prolonged illness results in longer hospital stays, the need for more expensive medicines, and financial challenges for those impacted.
"When we face infections that don’t respond to treatments, we are facing a catastrophe. We must address AMR as we have with a pandemic and give it the same attention we have given to COVID-19. In the long term, negligence will result in economic losses as well as loss of life."
Surveillance data is the most common data source used to measure and understand the extent of AMR, but is it enough?
"Existing data collection tools in most African countries do not collect or indicate the right type of data to inform decision making. This is a challenge to estimating the global burden of AMR."
We believe there is a greater role that citizens and communities can play in understanding and tackling AMR through meaningful engagement with citizens. There are human behaviors that can only be changed once people understand the subject matter itself. This calls for citizen generated data (CDG). We are now bringing CGD and AMR together. With Wellcome and other stakeholders, we are working in Kenya to use CGD to help communities and decision-makers take collective action on AMR.
Our work is divided into 3 tracks and will run until the end of September 2021:
- Data to Empower: engaging citizens to better understand AMR related behavior and perceptions, and empowering citizens with objective and contextually relevant information;
- Data to Give Direction: using CGD to empower citizens to change behaviors, fill evidence gaps for the research community, and support health policy decision-making;
- Advocacy on CGD: encouraging researchers and policymakers to incorporate CGD as an important source of evidence
The priority data gaps for this project are:
- Knowledge of AMR
- Accessibility and availability of antimicrobial medication
- Use and misuse of antimicrobial medication
We look forward to bringing the power of the people to unlock solutions to antimicrobial resistance at local levels in Kenya.