Only two generations ago, within living memory, it was not unusual for even minor operations to kill. The ever-present threat of infection made every trip to hospital a lethal gamble. The advent of penicillin enabled us to beat previously untreatable diseases and develop new, now routine, procedures, from hip replacements to chemotherapy. The spread of antimicrobial resistance threatens to undo all this progress unless we make a concerted effort to do something. Read on to find out how to do your bit.
Volunteer to work with us
If you would like to get involved in our research into drug-resistant infections or healthcare-associated infections please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org. You can help us in our work in all sorts of ways, by becoming a lay representative on one of our committees, by participating in shaping a research project, or by giving us feedback on how we communicate our work to the general public. You may just choose to receive our newsletter or come to one of our open events. For more information about ways to get involved, please download our Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement leaflet (pdf). You may also choose to get involved at your local hospital - all NHS hospitals in the UK are required to have lay members on their governing boards and steering committees as are many medical Royal Colleges.
Encourage friends and family to join in
Making people aware of the very real threat of drug-resistant infections is essential in tackling the problem. Only by changing how we use antimicrobial drugs and by improving our hand hygiene, will we reduce the development and spread of drug-resistant infections.
Anyone and everyone can help here by talking about the problem with friends and family. Public Health England (PHE) has called on everyone become “Antimicrobial Guardians” making a pledge to take just one of a number of actions which will help – see Antibiotic Guardian for more information.
If you are a parent you can teach your children about good hand hygiene and talk to their school about encouraging good hygiene in the classroom (see below). The e-bug web site has a wealth of resources for teachers to use in science lessons for children of all ages. You may also want to look at our illustrated history of resistance, play our snakes and ladders game, or investigate the comic- Surgeon X.
You can also help raise awareness of the antimicrobial resistance by discussing it on blogs and social media. The more people are aware of the problem, the more we can do to combat it.
Involve your school
Imperial College has produced a set of lessons on bacteria and hand hygiene that are mapped to the national curriculum for upper KS2 Science and PSHE. The lessons aim to help students understand that effective hand washing is important to minimise the risk of infection from potentially harmful bacteria. Students will carry out a simple experiment to observe how bacteria can spread from person to person simply by shaking each other’s hands. Pupils will also test whether soap is an effective method for hand washing. These lessons can be supported by researchers from the College- more information is available on our lesson plans page.
Do your bit by simply practising good hand hygiene and using antibiotics sensibly
If you do nothing else, then you can contribute by ensuring you:
- Practice proper hand hygiene
- Do not ask for antibiotics you do not need
- Follow the instructions your doctor gives you about taking antibiotics
- Tell other people about the problem of drug-resistant infections
Our fact sheets provide more information about what we can do as individuals, as parents, as patients and as carers to tackle the issue of drug-resistant infections - download them below: