Bacterial relations and antimicrobial futures in India

Project Status: Current
People Involved: Alex Broom, Emma Kirby, Katherine Kenny, Sophie Lewis
Research Areas: The Social Science of Antimicrobials
Funding Agency: Australian Research Council, UNSW Scientia Program, Australian National University
Non-Staff Involved: Dr Kristen Overton; A/Professor Assa Doron (Australian National University); Dr Mahati Chittem (Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad)
Partners / Collaborators: Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Hyderabad

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is set to be the challenge of the 21st Century, and AMR itself (i.e. the proliferation of resistant bacteria) and its remedies (i.e. the restriction of antibiotics) will disproportionately affect developing countries (due to limited access to prescribed antibiotics) and poorer communities in developed nations (more prone to infection and poorer access to high-level, formalised services). There is very limited work being done globally to meld critical sociology with concerns around AMR, and virtually no work has been done in India. Yet effectively governing antibiotic use requires a deep understanding of social, behavioural and cultural influences, rather than simply implementing best practice or tightening controls over use. With an emphasis on developing new and critical understandings of the social underpinnings of antimicrobial use and resistance in India, this project focuses on how factors such as enduring and emerging inequalities, access to care, structural violence, governance practices etc shape antimicrobial use in the subcontinent (and beyond). Partnering with IIT Hyderabad, the project will involve immersion in communities in India to explore everyday infection management practices, the impact of resistance within communities, and the interplay of cultural beliefs and structural constraints on community antimicrobial use and misuse.