„Fighting Antimicrobial Resistance Together“ campaign: The dangers of antibiotic misuse and overuse

By Dr. Irene Drymiotou, University of Cyprus

MULTIPLIERS in Cyprus seeks to raise awareness of the critical problem of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR), which has been declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the 10 threats to global health. According to recent statistics from the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC), Cyprus is among the European Union countries with the highest consumption of antibiotic drugs and the highest rates of antimicrobial resistance and the burden of infections by multidrug-resistant pathogens that increase mortality.

As part of actions to combat antimicrobial resistance, on May 13th, 2023, the Learning in Science Group (LSG) of the University of Cyprus and The Junior and Senior School from our Cyprus OSC co-organised an information campaign on Antimicrobial Resistance. The awareness-raising campaign was an open event to the public taking place at the central square of the capital of Nicosia, with the support of Nicosia municipality. Forty-five 8th graders (13-14 years old) with their teachers joined forces and acted as „knowledge multipliers“ to inform the public about the crucial problem of AMR. To advertise the event, flyers were shared with the local community, an announcement and a podcast were published by the local press, as well as various posts and stories on the institutions’ social media channels (i.e., Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn).

On the day of the event, the students were assigned different roles in the following booths:

  • The information booth: sharing informative flyers in Greek and English, providing short surveys about the use of antibiotics, welcome drink (lemonade) and biscuits sponsored by a local biscuit factory.
  • The creative booth: prompting public engagement through different activities (e.g., modelling activity with playdough, drawing bacteria on paper, board games with play cards, word puzzles, observing the microworld through the microscope).
  • The human library booth: interviewing representatives from different stakeholder groups (pharmaceutical and food industry, policymaker institutions, parents, and doctors) to get information about their profile and their stance on AMR.
  • The poster exhibition booth: presenting posters displayed on boards.
  • The photo booth: taking pictures using an AMR photo frame.

According to the students, raising awareness about AMR in a public space was interesting and fun, as shown in the quotations below:

“I enjoyed teaching people about AMR! It’s good to spread the word so that everybody knows about it”.

“I liked the event at the square spreading awareness about AMR, that was fun! I was with my friend planning who we were going to talk to at some point. I had to go around and give people information about what it was, share flyers and help them understand the problem”.

“Every single person I asked whether they knew about AMR said no, and it was good teaching them about this problem and ways to stop it”.

The awareness campaign successfully engaged approximately 200 individuals from the public and different groups including students, parents and relatives, representatives from policymaking institutions, the pharmaceutical and food industries as well as doctors. Cyprus Science MULTIPLIERS managed to leave a footprint in raising awareness about AMR.