Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) continues to remain one of the most pressing health threats in the 21st century and, if not tackled, will render treatment ineffective in the near future. Raising awareness about AMR globally and collaborative efforts have been identified as two of the key strategies to curb it. As such, the Nottingham Trent University-Makerere University (NTU-Mak) partnership aims to address this issue by raising awareness about AMR and instilling a sense of antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) among university students. On an annual basis, the NTU-Mak partnership participates in the World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) to commemorate this issue in the UK, Uganda, and around the world. This year, the WAAW is scheduled for November 18–24, 2023, under the theme “Preventing Antimicrobial Resistance Together.”
On October 17, 2023, the partnership launched the WAAW students’ competition 2023 under three categories: a comic strip to raise awareness of AMR and promote antimicrobial stewardship; a video, song, dance, or rap (maximum 5 minutes) to raise awareness of AMR and AMS in an engaging way; and a researchers’ video (maximum 2 minutes) explaining AMR-related research to a broader audience. The launch was presided over by Dr. Jody Winter, a principal lecturer from the School of Science and Technology at Nottingham Trent University.
The submission deadline for entries is Monday, November 13, 2023, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. All university students across the globe are encouraged to apply, and prize winners will be awarded on November 21, 2023, during the NTU-Mak WAAW event.
Prior to this event, the NTU-Mak partnership has been actively creating AMR awareness among university students on several occasions. In July 2023, an AMR workshop was organized for Makerere University students at Nottingham Trent University under the Erasmus+ International Credit Mobility program, with a total of 30 students in attendance. It was a captivating learning experience that involved participation in AMS board games and receiving insights from the AMR experts, who emphasized that the process of developing a new drug is costly and could take more than 10 years, with the last antibiotic being discovered in 1987. Students were encouraged to become AMS champions in their communities and share the knowledge gained with others. Special thanks go to Dr. Bunmi Omorotionmwan, Dr. David Negus and Dr. Jody Winter lecturers from NTU, for organizing this fun yet great learning opportunity.
On September 18, 2023, a One Health Seminar titled “The Best and Worst Times in Antimicrobial Stewardship: Experiences from the UK” was convened at the School of Pharmacy, Makerere University. This seminar brought together over 70 students from the human, animal, and environmental health disciplines since addressing AMR necessitates working beyond silos. The session was chaired by Dr. Bush Herbert Aguma, a lecturer in the Department of Pharmacy at Makerere University who is passionate about clinical pharmacy and AMS. Students had the privilege of being facilitated by a team of pharmacist experts from the UK (Aarash Ahmadi and Natasha Hamilton-Tanner) who shared their experiences.
The seminar encompassed definitions of AMR and AMS, their consequences, case studies, and the AMR situation in Uganda. In addition, the value of One Health when addressing AMR was reechoed during this seminar. Furthermore, the UK experts provided insights into efforts in place to fight AMR in their country.
“In the UK, one cannot access antibiotics from a pharmacy or a drug shop without a prescription. The law and policies set by the UK government protect antibiotics since we know how deadly AMR can get," said Natasha Hamilton-Tanner.
One of the key concerns and recommendations voiced by the students was the inclusion of AMR and AMS in the curriculum of health professional students to enhance knowledge and understanding of this issue among trainees.
The above initiatives reflect the commitment of the NTU-Mak partnership to confront AMR and mobilize the global community against this urgent health crisis. In conclusion, there is a need to embrace the One Health approach to successfully tackle AMR, which has been proven to spread across the human, animal, and environmental domains. It is also important to bring on board university students who are the future health care professionals in order to embed AMS at an early stage before they proceed to practice in their different careers.
Compiled by Carol Esther Nabbanja and Grace Biyinzika Lubega