Young people are an important and valuable stakeholder in addressing the global health threat of AMR since they are the next generation of public health professionals, the potential future antimicrobial prescribers, users, stewards, and policymakers in their professional practice.
Since 2016, ReAct Africa has been targeting students from elementary level to tertiary level in various interventions including building their capacity and initiating work on forming One-Health student clubs.
The objective of the interventions is to raise AMR awareness amongst students so that ultimately the students become “AMR champions” in their individual and professional capacity.
Who is an AMR Champion?
Characteristics of “AMR champions” include someone who fully understands that if the AMR problem is not contained, results in devastating effects such as: loss of life; reversal of the gains in modern medicine; threatening of food security and poverty. In addition, an AMR champion understands that action needs to be taken and is vocal about AMR issues and becomes an ambassador for AMR spreading the message to their families, colleagues, and communities at large.
Interventions for primary school children
ReAct Latin America has successfully employed the Alforja Educativa as a tool to create awareness on AMR amongst children and teachers in selected schools across Cuenca, Ecuador. The Alforja Educativa (Alforja – Spanish term meaning a small knapsack that is used to contain essential elements necessary to sustain travelers during their journeys) is a compilation of activity guides, story books, songs and videos. Following the translation of the tool into English language in 2017, the team proposed the need to adapt it to other contexts through a pilot training and validation project in Africa.
Interventions for tertiary level students
ReAct Africa engages university students in various activities including raising AMR awareness in various universities and supporting the formation and operation of One Health Student Clubs. The COVID-19 pandemic has stalled progress for the One Health Clubs as most institutions are now offering virtual classes. The physical sensitization activities have become a challenge due to the mitigation measures. This has meant engaging the students more in online activities such as webinars and students’ competitions.
Students Pilot Program
ReAct Africa launched a pilot program in July 2021 with a goal to have empowered student leaders in Africa who are problem solvers and solution providers for the Antimicrobial Resistance global health threat. The program seeks to equip them with the relevant knowledge, skills, strengthen their capacity and offer them support. The targeted students can then lead student initiatives in their respective countries and empower other students to engage in AMR through the Training of Trainers approach. The program includes activities such as: presentations and online training from technical experts; online self-paced learning; communication and networking sills training; interactive learning through social media platforms; experiential learning through designing a context-specific sustainable solution model in AMR and World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) activities. The pilot program is being coordinated by ReAct Africa in collaboration with Students Against Superbugs Africa (SAS). The program will also engage a pool of advisors and mentors to ensure optimal implementation and best practices. It is expected that the lessons learned from this program will inform follow up interventions for students in the African region and have sustainability in targeting this key stakeholder in addressing AMR.