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 tertiary level in various interventions including building their capacity and initiating work on forming One-Health student clubs. The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, impacted some of the activities in the institutions.
Activities transitioned to virtual events that meant the reach of students was expanded to various African countries. The challenge of sustainability of the student activities led to the idea of an Antimicrobial Resistance Leaders Program for Tertiary Students in Africa (AMRLEP) that ReAct Africa is currently piloting in collaboration with Students Against Superbugs- Africa (SAS). The AMR Leadership Program (AMRLEP) program seeks to empower students from various countries in Africa. The program seeks to equip them with the relevant skills, strengthen their capacity in addressing AMR and offer them support. These students can then lead student initiatives in their respective countries and empower other students to engage in AMR through the Training of Trainers (ToT) approach. The actions can be diverse including facilitating active engagements in AMR One Health clubs, partnering with other students to engage in research, and developing innovative solutions that can help mitigate AMR among other activities.
Empowered student leaders in Africa who are problem solvers and solution providers for the Antimicrobial Resistance global health threat.
Objectives of the AMRLEP Program
- The targeted young people pursuing tertiary education in Africa have Antimicrobial Resistance knowledge and have been capacitated to be AMR leaders both as students and in their careers thereafter.
- A sustainable program for engaging students in Antimicrobial Resistance throughout Africa is established.
- Knowledge and skills that are necessary for active and effective contribution in developing, implementing and supporting interventions on Antimicrobial Resistance prevention and control have been inculcated among young people in Africa.
The program started with an AMR online course that the students had to go through in the first month. The course used was; The Silent Tsunami course on the ReAct Africa website that was produced by ReAct and Uppsala University, and the re-branding was funded by EIT Health.
The course covers topics that include the following broad focus areas:
- The discovery and history of antibiotics
- The importance of antibiotics and consequences of emerging resistance
- Basic mechanisms of antibiotics, bacteria and antibiotic resistance
- Major challenges related to resistance in clinical practice, innovation, financial models and equal distribution of medicines
- Actions that can be implemented on a societal, clinical or individual level to manage, control and prevent emergence and spread of resistance
- Global initiatives to meet this global health threat
After the online course, the students went through a series of sensitization sessions conducted virtually on Saturday mornings from August to October 2021 led by various expert speakers. The program concluded in December with an end of year celebration and graduation event.