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WASH for Fighting Anti-Microbial Resistance

Through an entirely virtual, months-long process, Meridian convened leading experts from around the world to co-author World Health Organization policy options on combatting anti-microbial resistance.

Anti-microbial resistance is a dangerous public health threat. Bacteria are rapidly mutating, rendering our current arsenal of antibiotics less effective over time to these so-called “superbugs.” An effective preventative solution is simple: water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). Yet, WASH practices remain underutilized worldwide, in both developed and developing countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) called on Meridian’s help to develop clear and rigorous policy options for WHO offices and cross-sectoral government officials in order to encourage WASH as a means to combat anti-microbial resistance.

In collaboration with the WHO, Meridian convened a dozen leading experts on WASH and anti-microbial resistance each representing unique sectors, geographies, and areas of expertise. We began by interviewing each individual, building an initial rapport and understanding of their potential contributions to the final product.

This initial trust-building laid the foundation for productive collaboration when we virtually brought these individuals together—even though they never met in person. We held a series of video- and tele-conferences, staggering them across time zones to account for experts’ physical locations. Each of these meetings was carefully planned: rather than succumb to tedious and unproductive wordsmithing, we focused the group on knowledge gaps and areas of confusion or disagreement. In between these virtual meetings, we created online templates for the experts to contribute to—helping them respond to questions and gather information in consistent ways. We also set up collaborative spaces where members of the group could exchange ideas and evidence, and co-author the final report.

Although each expert brought different—and, sometimes, contradicting—viewpoints to the metaphorical table, we guided a successful knowledge exchange and co-creation process. The group delivered a final set of policy options to the WHO along with supporting case studies demonstrating the viability of each proposed option. These are intended to be used at national levels to encourage cross-sectoral adoption of WASH policies and programs: important actions in the global fight against anti-microbial resistance.

Project Team

Learn more about the team that led the WASH for Fighting Anti-Microbial Resistance project.