Education: future proofing antibiotic use

24/04/2020
Written by
Magda Hann, e-Bug, Public Health England

Across the globe, organisations are taking a multidisciplinary approach to tackling antimicrobial resistance (AMR) by improving diagnostics, tightening up regulations, and using research and innovation to create new medicines. Although new antimicrobials may provide a short-term answer to resistance, a sustainable solution must include measures to revolutionise the public's attitude towards preventing infection and antibiotic use through education that changes the way we think about and use these drugs.

Educating children at a young age to instil good basic hygienic behaviour and prudent antibiotic use will be key to reducing the spread of infection and will provide them with the best chance of beating AMR.

What is e-Bug

More than just a teaching resource, e-Bug (developed by Public Health England) strives to raise the next generation of antibiotic stewards, empowering school children and young adults to make simple behavioural changes that can make fundamental impact on infection control.

e-Bug consists of various teaching resources to inspire and engage; from lesson plans to hands on activities, class demos and online games, e-Bug is a one stop shop for infection education. The resource introduces microbes, brings to life hand and respiratory hygiene, and fosters discussion around vaccinations and antibiotics. Students are equipped with crucial knowledge on caring for themselves when they are ill with a common infection (self-care) which is often not given the prominence it deserves.

e-Bug is for all ages, with resources to support school children from ages 4 to 18, and programmes designed for community and youth groups. e-Bug has a central role to play in fulfilling the government’s 20-year action plan for tackling AMR by educating children on infection prevention and control among the public.

Responding to COVID-19

COVID-19 may have come as an unprecedented global event; however, e-Bug is uniquely prepared, as key lessons on basic microbiology, hand and respiratory hygiene, and self-care have become a national priority and topic of discussion. While the resources have been valuable to educators responding to the COVID-19 crisis, when the nation starts to recover, lessons learnt will continue to have an impact.

By defining the difference between viral and bacterial infections, highlighting the importance of hygiene and vaccinations, and shining a spotlight on self-care, perhaps this pandemic can breed a generation of infection control advocates.

''By defining the difference between viral and bacterial infections, highlighting the importance of hygiene and vaccinations, and shining a spotlight on self-care, perhaps this pandemic can breed a generation of infection control advocates''

Supporting home-schooling

While educating children about viruses and the spread and prevention of infection is e-Bug’s bread and butter, home-schooling poses uncharted territory. e-Bug has been quick to respond, providing succinct advice and resources for those home-schooling in a time when infection control education is more necessary than ever.

Designed for youth groups, e-Bug’s ‘Antibiotic Guardian’ youth programme provides infection prevention education in the form of standalone activities perfect for those suddenly home-schooling. Activities are suitable for ages 5 to 18 and are designed to be fun, engaging and physically active. Like all e-Bug resources, the activities link to key curriculum areas including science, design and technology, PSHE and even art and design, providing a well-rounded programme for home-schooling.

For many parents and carers, being thrust into the position of ‘teacher’ can be daunting and unfamiliar. Some may think ‘microbiology’ is something best left in the laboratory, while others are left scratching their heads over how soap really works. e-Bug’s free e-learning course was designed predominantly for teachers, but is simple enough for anyone who would like more knowledge and confidence to teach children/young people about these topics, in a fun and age-appropriate manner.

It includes three (1-2 hour) sessions outlining basic theory and teaching activities for:

  • Session 1: Microbes, hand and respiratory hygiene
  • Session 2: Food hygiene and oral hygiene
  • Session 3: Antibiotics and self-care

The course was developed in collaboration with the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy (BSAC) and launches on 6th April 2020. It is free to access via the FutureLearn website for 5 weeks from this date (register now).