27 Jul 2021
– Alice Tompson – London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
Co-authors: Sharing findings from the AMIS programme: a series of short films

As part of our dissemination activities, we are delighted to now be able to share a series of short films about the empirical research conducted as part of the Antimicrobials in Society programme. AMIS researchers based in Thailand and Uganda spent time immersed in particular settings studying antibiotic use there, and following these medicines and their entanglements as they moved between places and scales. These films vividly communicate the realities of these local contexts and how antibiotics are relied upon in everyday life. They also illustrate the fresh perspectives offered by drawing on ethnographic approaches to understand antibiotic use.

Together, these films present a powerful case for the need to look beyond individual behaviour-based approaches when seeking to understand and address antibiotic use and AMR. They highlight the urgent need to tackle the upstream causes of antibiotics being used as ‘quick fixes’, for example by strengthening healthcare and sanitation systems, tackling hunger and precarious economic livelihoods. They also reveal the AMIS research teams in Thailand and Uganda to be naturals in front of the camera!

Please feel free to share these films and/or to use them in teaching. The links for their full citations are available alongside the films below.

AMIS Thailand

Antimicrobials in Society (AMIS): When Anthropologists are Challenged by the 21st-Century World 


This film highlights how a group of anthropologists at the Society and Health Institute, Ministry of Public Health in Thailand responded researching antibiotic use and the problem of AMR. Their research focusses on (1) Stateless Tuberculosis and Borderless Labour Migration, (2) Antibiotic Use in Orange Orchards, (3) Data Collection of Antibiotic Use in a Sub-district Health Promoting Hospital, and (4) The Following Method: The Moving and Following Research Methodology. The film ends with the proposal about a new identity for anthropologists of the 21st century.

Antimicrobial Resistance, Urban Life in Thailand and Anthropological Research 


This video, from the AMIS Thailand Mahidol University team, presents insights from the project’s urban ethnography. It portrays the complexity of daily life contexts of a peri-urban area of central Thailand and how ethnographic fieldwork could be carried out. Ethnographic accounts of dwellers, bedridden patients and health care systems are depicted together with fieldwork practices. The video illustrates the problems that antibiotics have become a solution to in this urban setting.

AMIS Uganda

Antimicrobials in Society: A film about anthropological approaches to antibiotic use in East Africa 


The film shows the AMIS Uganda research activities aimed at understanding the roles that antibiotics play in everyday life and the context within which antibiotics are used in rural Tororo, peri-urban Wakiso and urban Kampala. It portrays the way antibiotic use is shaped by economic concerns among commercial poultry and piggery farmers in peri urban Wakiso and challenges of limited access to clean water and inadequate toilet facilities in rural Tororo and urban Kampala.

No medicine, no life: A film about everyday life and use of medicines in Eastern Uganda 


This film depicts everyday life in rural households in Tororo and the issues that people grapple with including frequent episodes of diarrhoea, scarcity of food, lack of clean water, inadequate toilet facilities and scarcity of good quality health care. Antibiotics have become part and parcel of everyday life offering relief from the pain and uneasiness of being sick all the time and enabling people to continue with their garden work despite being unwell.

Antibiotics as Hygiene: A film about antibiotic use in an urban informal settlement in Uganda 


The film shows everyday life in an urban informal settlement in Kampala focusing on the areas of water contamination and inadequate toilet facilities that result in frequent infections that necessitate the use of antibiotics to cope with living this setting.

Antibiotics as Protection: A film about antibiotic use in pig and poultry production in Uganda


This film depicts everyday life on peri-urban pig and poultry farms in Wakiso district in relation to the use of antibiotic medicines. It highlights the magnitude of finances invested in production versus threats that compromise profits. Irrespective of adoption of modern biosecurity measures, production is precarious. In this case, antibiotics have become a recipe, shifting connections away from treatment and prevention to economic concerns regarding profitability and protection of financial investments.