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UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Why biomedicine needs an ecological theory of the body Bratty, Joan E. M.


Family physicians were surveyed and interviewed during the COVID-19 pandemic to determine their perception of both pathogenic and symbiotic microbes. Evidence from a brief survey, a series of interviews and a review of recent literature suggests that a paradigm shift is occurring away from the germ theory of disease causation and towards an ecological theory of the human body. Conceptions of the human body are shifting from seeing the body as a nation-state at war with invading microbes towards an ecological view which sees human bodies as forming and embedded within microbial ecosystems, which are themselves under ecologic threat. The global challenge of antimicrobial resistance requires cross-disciplinary collaboration and a better understanding of how differing conceptions of the body and microbes may influence the success or failure of policies designed to minimize the inappropriate use of antimicrobial medications in clinical practice. Further research is needed to develop policies that encourage microbial stewardship as an alternative approach to antimicrobial stewardship.

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