News and Opinions  –  2023

ReAct Asia Pacific: Engaging youth on AMR

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On August 4, 2023, ReAct Asia Pacific hosted a workshop for the ASPIC Student Clubs on the theme "Defining the Role of Youth and Communities in AMR Mitigation Efforts". This workshop continued ReAct Asia Pacific efforts to engage youth in the issue of antibiotic resistance. The workshop was organized to build the capacity of ASPIC club (Antibiotic Stewardship and Prevention of Infection in Communities) members so that youth act as agents of change and continue to influence their social spheres to understand and take up AMR mitigation efforts.

The day started with Mr. Vishal Sam, Lead Training and Education, ReAct Asia Pacific, introducing the participants to the scope and purpose of the meeting.

He says:

Vishal Sam, Lead Training and Education, ReAct Asia Pacific.

“ReAct Asia Pacific started engaging students and youth in 2018. With the importance of youth increasing as a major stakeholder in mitigation efforts in the AMR landscape, the workshop empowered the student members to take up their roles more actively.

The ASPIC Student Clubs have been instrumental in shaping grassroots level programs on antimicrobial resistance, and the clubs can further add to this mandate by increasing awareness and engaging the public on the issue.”

Youth as key stakeholders for action on antibiotic resistance

Dr. Philip Mathew, Technical Officer, AMR Division, World Health Organization (WHO), talked about the potential of ASPIC club members to lend their voices to the cause and also why youth are identified as key stakeholders.

Dr. Philip also gave an overview of the functioning of the quadripartite (WHO, FAO, WOAH and UNEP) and elaborated on the engagement plan that WHO has developed for youth and schoolchildren.

Students informing peers, families and other community groups important

Dr. Carol Devamani, Study Manager, Department of Child Health, Christian Medical College, Vellore and Dr. Raghini, Lead-Programs, moderated a focus group discussion to understand how ASPIC club members disseminate information on antibiotic resistance to their peers, families and other community groups. Participants shared how they introduced different groups of people to antibiotic resistance and their responses to the information provided.

KARSAP – the State Action plan on AMR for Kerala

Dr. Anupama Rajani, Clinical Microbiologist, District AMR Lab, General Hospital Kottayam, Kerala, spoke about the burden of antibiotic resistance, the different drivers of antibiotic resistance, and the consequences of not addressing antibiotic resistance urgently.

She also spoke about the Kerala Antimicrobial Resistance Strategic Action Plan (KARSAP) and gave an overview of how the program was implemented across the state. She mentioned how the antibiotic surveillance system in Kerala functions and how the government engages several stakeholders besides health providers.

Engaging communities

Dr. Betsy A. Jose, Assistant professor of Community Medicine at the Pushpagiri Institute of Medical Sciences, spoke about how people contribute to different AMR-drivers. She also provided examples of how ASPIC clubs could engage communities to address these AMR-drivers, using the example of the ReAct Asia Pacific project Antibiotic Smart Communities.

Identify activities together – for sustainability of the student clubs

Winning photo in ASPIC clubs photo competition in 2021: Mathangi Varma.

In the afternoon, the organizers interacted with the ASPIC club members to identify activities that could be taken up by the clubs to ensure their sustainability. Activities such as plays, murals, radio shows and articles were suggested for continuing the functioning of the clubs and spreading awareness about antibiotic resistance. A suggestion for an ASPIC newsletter on locally relevant public health causes was also put forth.

Winners ASPIC clubs photo competition in 2021

Gender and health

Dr. Raghini gave an overview of gender as a system, patriarchy, the difference between sex and gender, and how gender and health interact. She urged the audience to look at different social and health issues through a gender lens and adopt suitable measures that address the needs of women.

Portrait of Raghini Ranganathan.
Raghini Ranganathan, ReAct Asia Pacific

“For youth to engage in AMR efforts, it is important to equip them with knowledge of the problem and interventions to address the issue. This workshop gave a comprehensive overview of several AMR-drivers and solutions to address antimicrobial resistance while keeping the language and content simple and clear. The workshop also sparked interest among participants to effect change in the AMR-landscape as clubs and as individuals”

said Dr. Raghini Ranganathan.

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