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The AMR problem: demanding economies, biological margins, and co-producing alternative strategies


  • Steve Hinchliffe

    () (University of Exeter)

  • Andrea Butcher

    (University of Exeter)

  • Muhammad Meezanur Rahman

    (WorldFish, and CGIAR research program FISH)


Widespread antimicrobial resistance (AMR) poses a threat to public and animal health, and has consequences for the structure and sustainability of food production. The problem is often framed as one of inappropriate antimicrobial use, which drives emergence and selection of resistant microbes. The answer to this framing of the problem is to lower disease incidence and transmission rates, regulate antimicrobial uses and to educate prescribers and users of medicines. In this paper we argue that this seemingly straightforward programme of action is beset by at least two difficulties. First, in many parts of the world, disease dynamics and antimicrobial uses are embedded within biosocially demanding settings. Second, antibiotic use is one among many possible drivers of resistance. We focus on the aquatic environment and aquacultural food production where resistance drivers may relate to a variety of processes. Using interviews, survey data, and participatory modelling exercises with competency groups in Bangladesh’s shrimp and prawn aquaculture sector, we demonstrate the need to understand economic and biological drivers of disease, farmer adaptations to disease risks and the potential paradox of pursuing pathogen-free food production as a means to reduce AMR risks. We argue that the AMR problem needs to be framed as an adaptive rather than technical challenge, and involves ownership, change and experimentation across a range of relevant sites.

Suggested Citation

  • Steve Hinchliffe & Andrea Butcher & Muhammad Meezanur Rahman, 2018. "The AMR problem: demanding economies, biological margins, and co-producing alternative strategies," Palgrave Communications, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 4(1), pages 1-12, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:pal:palcom:v:4:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1057_s41599-018-0195-4
    DOI: 10.1057/s41599-018-0195-4

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Stephen Hinchliffe & Mark A. Jackson & Katrina Wyatt & Anne E. Barlow & Manuela Barreto & Linda Clare & Michael H. Depledge & Robin Durie & Lora E. Fleming & Nick Groom & Karyn Morrissey & Laura Salis, 2018. "Healthy publics: enabling cultures and environments for health," Palgrave Communications, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 4(1), pages 1-10, December.
    2. Jahan, K.M. & Belton, B. & Ali, H. & Dhar, G.C. & Ara, I., 2015. "Aquaculture technologies in Bangladesh: An assessment of technical and economic performance and producer behavior," Working Papers, The WorldFish Center, number 40685, September.
    3. Leach, Melissa & Scoones, Ian, 2013. "The social and political lives of zoonotic disease models: Narratives, science and policy," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 10-17.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lenore Manderson, 2020. "Prescribing, care and resistance: antibiotic use in urban South Africa," Palgrave Communications, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 7(1), pages 1-10, December.
    2. Charlotte Brives & Jessica Pourraz, 2020. "Phage therapy as a potential solution in the fight against AMR: obstacles and possible futures," Palgrave Communications, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 6(1), pages 1-11, December.

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