Spotlight 26/03/18 | FIEBRE Project Launch; Global Antibiotic Consumption Figures; Fresh perspectives on AMR from social research

FIEBRE Project Launch
The Febrile Illness Evaluation in a Broad Range of Endemicities (FIEBRE) Project was launched in March – see press release here. This is the largest study of its kind, aiming to tackle antimicrobial resistance and develop a ‘blueprint’ for treatment. Funded by UKAid from the Department for International Development, and led by David Mabey at LSHTM, the project works within five study countries – Laos, Malawi, Mozambique, Myanmar and Zimbabwe.

Fever is one of the most common symptoms that leads people living in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia to seek healthcare or be admitted to hospital. However, very few studies have examined the reasons why people develop it. Until recently, most febrile illness in this part of the world was attributed to malaria, but wider access to improved diagnostics has revealed that most patients with a fever do not have malaria. By identifying the treatable and preventable causes of febrile illness in the region, and how patients with fever are cared for, the researchers aim to design new evidence-based guidelines for the management of fever. This will ensure patients receive drugs that give them the best chance of recovery, as well as help stop the spread of antimicrobial resistance.

Global Antibiotic Consumption Figures
A new set of figures has been published today, estimating the global consumption of antibiotics. This global summary responds to the urgent need for data on how antibiotics are used around the world. However, the conclusion that the increase in antibiotic use is “driven by low and middle-income countries (LMICs)” should be considered with caution for both scientific and political reasons. Although a global picture is presented, only 76 countries are included in the analysis, mostly high income. Data were extrapolated from a few LMICs to the remaining 102 LMICs based on the assumption of the same rates of use. It seems that data on antibiotic use from India and Pakistan for example were used to fill gaps in data for African countries, where we know there is much lower antibiotic usage rates. A danger of this message is to point the finger of blame towards LMICs as being responsible for global increases in superbugs, which feeds into general fears that our health security is at risk from the Global South. Analyses have shown that in the UK fears of superbugs have been coupled politically with anxieties around immigration. As academics we must be sensitive to the political context in which data is used. Superbugs are becoming more common in many high income countries but the majority of drug resistant infections are acquired locally rather than transnationally. The shape of this problem is different around the globe, and strong research is required to identify setting-specific issues and the relative importance of different forms of flow.

Fresh perspectives on AMR from social research
The Antimicrobials In Society (AMIS) programme has a new video on ‘Fresh Perspectives’ on AMR. If you want to carry out research with the AMIS Programme, why not apply for a new PhD studentship funded by the Medical Research Council, to be based in Thailand or Uganda. The ideal candidate will combine skills in anthropology and history to trace out issues relating to antibiotics, policies and knowledges.

COMING SOON: call for abstracts for Social Science and AMR symposium on 10th September. See: