Human-animal encounters in focus at Uppsala Health Summit on Antimicrobial Resistance


On 17 March, SWEDESD co-facilitated a workshop at the Uppsala Health Summit “Managing Antimicrobial Resistance through Behaviour Change”. The aim of the workshop was to address potentials, benefits and perils of human-animal encounters, with a special focus on children. 

The workshop invited Kristina Osbjer, SLU – the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, and Caleb Mandikonza, Wits University, South Africa to provide perspectives on the educational and everyday encounters between children and animals. During the workshop discussion a major conclusion was how human-animal encounters have benefits beyond the risk of infection and antimicrobial resistance (AMR), including nutrition, mental health, the development of care and the empowerment of disenfranchised groups in society.

Workshop participants argued that rather than altogether avoiding human-animal encounters, behavioural change should focus on the types of human-animal encounters, how these encounters occur, where, and under which conditions.

- Participants viewed discussions regarding the role of microbes a major challenge. To address this challenge focus could be shifted from the microbes themselves to their impact on various areas of our everyday lives - for example, food production, says Martin Mickelsson at SWEDESD who facilitated the workshop together with Tanja Strand from National Veterinary Institute in Sweden. 

As a way forward the workshop concluded that significant efforts of behavioural change should focus on developing positive relationships with animals based on care for both ourselves and the animals as a way of counteracting the more fraught human-animal relationships that drive AMR.

The Uppsala Health Summit that took place on 15-18 March 2021, is a recurring international policy arena for dialogue on challenges for health and healthcare, organised by Uppsala University, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala County Council, Uppsala City Council and World Class Uppsala.

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