This year’s theme for UK Science Week is ‘connections’ and throughout the week we look at how UKHSA science is carried out in collaboration with a wide range of organisations. In this blog, UKHSA’s Donna Lecky and Brieze Read discuss working with schools through our e-Bug program, which educates young people about infection prevention and control and preventing antimicrobial resistance.
Antimicrobial resistance occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change over time and no longer respond to drugs, making infections more difficult to treat. This is one of the biggest threats facing the world.
But the good news is that we can take action. By preventing infections and using antimicrobials appropriately, we can prevent and control antimicrobial resistance.
And this action can be taken at every level of society, from health and government decision makers, to frontline physicians, to families and individuals.
The E-Bug program was created to support the important role children and young people play in preventing infections and responding to the threat of antimicrobial resistance.
This includes maintaining good hygiene at school and at home, recognizing the signs and symptoms of infections and understanding when to self-care or seek professional advice.
Education about the risks and benefits of antimicrobials is also vital, such as taking antibiotics only when directed by a health care provider.
These are messages that young people can take immediately, but also teach life lessons.
UKHSA’s e-Bug team has worked closely with schools, young people and education authorities to develop a wide range of learning resources designed for different stages of school life (from Early Years to Key Stage 4), all curriculum-focused and all provide. this important public health information.
Making connections to fight AMR
Partnerships and the co-creation of messages and resources have been vital since e-Bug’s founding.
We are very proud that e-Bug is a truly international project, created from the beginning with a number of European partners. Our international partnerships are growing stronger and we are now working with countries across Europe and further afield to share best practices in the fight against AMR and create resources in multiple languages so they can benefit children around the world.
In recent years, we have established formal links with 27 countries that share our goal of ensuring that every child and young person is empowered to prevent infection and respond to antimicrobial resistance.
Closer to home, local authorities are also key partners, and a recent example of collaboration involved pilot training in the North West, working alongside local authority partners in Cheshire and Merseyside, Lancashire and Cumbria and Greater Manchester.
This was created to ensure local authorities can maximize their strong relationship with schools in their area by sharing vital messages about how positive behavior change in children and young people can prevent infections and protect antibiotics.
And of course, collaboration with teachers and young people is vital. Our resources are co-developed with a steering group of public health experts and teachers who ensure they are usable and effective in schools. This includes matching the school’s curriculum and the way teachers teach, including setting learning objectives and outcomes and using techniques such as quizzes, games and debate sets.
Please take a look at the e-Bug. If you are a teacher, we have a huge library of resources on our website for early years and key stages 1,2,3 and 4.
For community educators and leaders, we also offer a Beat the Bugs community course. This is a six-week community hygiene program that aims to provide people who participate with information about keeping themselves and others healthy by preventing the spread of infection and learning about how to treat infections.
Courses are also available for educators and those who wish to train others online and in person.