Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) is a major global challenge. Last year a study estimated that 33000 people die each year as a direct result of AMR. The burden is caused by infections caused by bacteria resistant to antibiotics.
We* have been working with the UK Department of Health and Social Care and Mott MacDonald, funded by the Fleming Fund, to understand how to build capacity in the surveillance of AMR worldwide. AMR surveillance is important, because it provides data at local, national and international levels to support clinicians, vets and agriculture specialists in understanding how best to use antibiotics. We have been focusing on low-to-medium-income countries, because those countries have the greatest challenges in terms of dealing with AMR.
In 2018 we carried out field studies and identified eight distinct areas of knowledge needed by health workers in low-to-middle income countries (LMICs). Since then we have been co-developing opportunities for lab professionals to learn about two of these areas, working closely with colleagues who represent key stakeholder in the LMICs.
On May 1 2019 we launched the first of these courses: a Badged Open Course on Understanding antibiotic resistance, led by Dr Rachel McMullen, a subject matter expert and academic from the Open University. The reason the course is important is because health professionals in LMICs have identified state-of-the-art foundational knowledge in antibiotic resistance as critical for setting up good AMR surveillance systems in LMICs. The course was co-designed over the period Jan – April 2019 by a team of professionals from LMICs representing different roles associated with AMR surveillance (lab managers, technicians, etc). It is being run via the Open Learn platform (see below).
A key feature of the course is that it has been designed to be integrated with and impact on the lab professionals’ everyday work, rather than as standalone training that sits outside work.
Over the next two months we, along with Dr Alison Fox (Open University) will monitor and evaluate whether and how the lab professionals change how they work as they monitor antibiotic resistance. We will also run a blended learning event on Data Interpretation, where we will support professionals not only in learning how to interpret data, but also in reflecting on how their workplace is structured and in considering whether to reconfigure the workplace to ensure these data are good quality,
We are grateful to the Fleming Fund for funding this research.
*Prof Allison Littlejohn, University of Glasgow UK, Dr Koula Charitonos, Dr Heli Kaatrakoski, Tim Seal, Open University, UK