#FEMSmicroBlog: Thinking outside the box - antimicrobial resistance education


World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) is celebrated every year from the 18th to the 24th of November. Fostering this year’s theme “Preventing antimicrobial resistance together” this blog provides a short collection of communication, education and training initiatives all aiming to improve awareness and understanding of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR). Eleni Koursari, shares with you some new and some old initiatives, but they all have in common breaking down complex topics such as AMR in a fun and engaging way for young and old. We hope that this blog provides you with inspiration to create your own initiatives and provide ideas you can intergrade with current practices. #MicrobiologyEvents 

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change over time and no longer respond to medicines, making infections harder to treat and increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death. As a result of drug resistance, antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines become ineffective and infections become increasingly difficult or impossible to treat. Researchers estimated that AMR in bacteria caused an estimated 1.27 million deaths in 2019″ – World Health Organization


Storytelling through musicals

I can assume that we are all familiar with musicals such as The Lion King, The Phantom of the Opera, The Book of Mormon etc.  But something that more recently came to my radar is the musical The Mould that Changed the World, that showcases the story of antibiotic discovery, the risks of drug-resistance infections and the importance of prudent antibiotic use. The musical engages with emotions which can potentially be more effective than just mere facts in increasing knowledge and at the same time lead to change of practices.

(Video from the Charades Musicals)


Science Outreach – Pop-up science shop

Thinking in a more broader sense, it is true to say that not everyone has the access or the means to get to knowledge. So then lets bring knowledge to them! Outreach events serve exactly this purpose, and they are an excellent tool to educate about AMR too! A very recent example, is the SuperBugs pop-up science shop. In summer 2019, a vacant retail store at the busiest shopping center in Wales was converted into an interactive microbiology museum. At the pop-up shop over 6 thousand visitors, many of those kids, took part in workshops and games demonstrating the evolution of AMR. In addition SuperBugs also went online with great resources.

(Video from Superbugs)


Raising awareness through play

Game-based learning is a teaching method that is getting more and more popular, so are there any games on AMR? The answer is yes! and indeed quite a few, from board games, to card games and electronic games! Let’s take the example of the mobile game called Superbug. This game revolves around “how long can you hold out against the superbugs?”. It takes the principles of antimicrobial resistance and models them into the game’s mechanics. The player’s goal is to survive for as long as possible by keeping bacteria at bay, killing them with antibiotics before they fill a petri dish.

Games are a great tool for engaging people with science – they can make the complex seem simple, and by their very nature pull in players to construct their own learning experiences.”

(video from the Microbiology Society)


And why not? Antimicrobial Resistance comic

Resist NOW is a science fiction comic anthology about Antimicrobial Resistance. Everyone loves comics right? Comics can speak in a relatable way in particular to kids and young adults. So why not try to educate through them? What a great initiative bringing science, art and culture all together!


Book on Antimicrobial Resistance

For all the book lovers reading this blog, how can I omit books on Antimicrobial Resistance? The Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith is a dystopian thriller book that talks about an antibiotic crisis, a world where antibiotics do no longer work. I am not going to share with you that much so you can enjoy unraveling the story yourself but I would definitely recommend this book! It simplifies a very complex scenario, without the pressure of reading an academic style book and makes the readers understand the importance of the AMR challenge and the need to drive for change. You can find a reading report and guide of The Waiting Rooms at the Bad Bugs BookClub website.



Open access hub – learning never stops!

Last but not least, how can I not mention online courses or online education? The British Society of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy (BSAC) for example, recently announced its Infection Learning Hub, offering accredited open access e-learning courses, webinars and live stream events.

Also our FEMS Opportunities Board has a “Fighting AMR” section with loads of great tools on the subject.

So if you want to learn something new consider checking all these resources.


About the author of this blog

Eleni Koursari is the Science Communications Officer at FEMS, where she contributes on the digital and social media channels and helps with various communications projects and volunteer teams with a SciComms focus.

Before FEMS, Eleni completed her Masters in Antimicrobial Resistance at The University of Sheffield (United Kingdom) and Bachelor’s in Medical Biochemistry. She also worked in different microbiology research laboratories on Streptococcus pyogenesNeisseria gonorrhoeae and Salmonella Typhi


About this blog section

The section #MicrobiologyEvents for the #FEMSmicroBlog reports about events and meetings relevant to our network. These include world awareness days, FEMS-sponsored meetings or meetings of Member Societies and many more.

The #FEMSmicroBlog welcomes external bloggers, writers and SciComm enthusiasts. Get in touch if you want to share your idea for a blog entry with us!


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