Improving the dialogue between public health and ecosystem science on antimicrobial resistance

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The concept of health has evolved markedly from a bio-medical, mechanistic model to include an interdisciplinary perspective where human, animal and ecosystem health are integrated. One Health, EcoHealth and Planetary Health are examples of approaches to health advocating collaboration and nterdisciplinarity at multiple levels. In practice, successful integration has been challenging and in particular, understanding of the ecosystem component of health lags behind the human and animal components. Antimicrobial resistance is an important threat to human health, which develops, is maintained and transmitted at the human–animal–environment interface. While the human and livestock components of resistance are well understood, this is not the case for the ecosystem component. This gap in knowledge leads to a poor representation of the environmental dimension of antimicrobial resistance in key policy documents
and in interdisciplinary work around this issue. We interviewed a group of leading researchers in public health and ecology to explore their perceptions on the integration of ecosystem and public health research in the context of antimicrobial resistance. Experts from both fields considered that research on antimicrobial resistance is only beginning to consider ecosystems. They highlighted various barriers that have contributed to limited integration, such as conceptual barriers, and a lack of knowledge translators as facilitators. Better interdisciplinary integration is needed to address the challenge of antimicrobial resistance. Improving the dialogues between the disciplines is a necessary first step in this process. Greater engagement of ecologists is needed to build a more complete understanding of the role of ecosystems in human health, and identify how human interactions with ecosystems can both contribute to, and restrict,
the development of antimicrobial resistance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1251-1256
Issue number8
Early online date12 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2 Aug 2021

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© 2021 The Authors. Oikos published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Nordic Society Oikos.

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