RBA Initiative AMR School Clubs Project
Changing peoples’ behavior is not easy and the older a person is, the more they are set in their ways. Schoolchildren are in their formative years, which is the right time to impart knowledge and best practices that will guide their behavior in life. Schoolchildren have links with families, communities and are future leaders and healthcare providers. RBA Initiative has been pioneering the use of young people as agents of change to increase AMR awareness and promote positive behavioral change. Through the RBA Initiative AMR School Clubs has successfully educated and empowered school children to become antibiotic guardians and AMR champions. Using appropriate language and consideration of local context, the project employed a variety of innovative activities including AMR arts and crafts (like songs, drama, traditional dance, drawing, poems, and competitions) storytelling and interactive learning that made children have fun as they learnt as well as classroom teaching. The main objective was to equip schoolchildren with knowledge and skills to understand antimicrobial use and resistance and ability to pass the knowledge to their families, other students and community at large. A core aspect is for the children to learn about AMR, and then go on and share the lessons with their families and local communities. Also, the arts and crafts work like songs and dramas composed by RBA Initiative AMR Club members can easily be used as educational entertainment especially using the YouTube. RBA Initiative has been educating school children about hand hygiene to encourage this, the organization commissioned a hand washing station and water tank to the AMR Arts and Crafts competition winner. The RBA Initiative AMR School Clubs project was cited as an important example of creative, community-focused support during the UN High Level meeting on AMR (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_auNJmjNEI&t=58s).
RBA Initiative AMR school club project has demonstrated how the mix of fun and rewarding campaigns is changing antimicrobial use behaviors of many in Tanzania.
A 15-years-old Rhoda shared her story of how the education she has received in the AMR Club has transformed her own life and that of her community. She said, “Attending an AMR club has made a huge difference in my life. I have learned so many things, like the importance of hand-washing and hygiene, how to identify fake medicine, and the importance of always completing the full course of antibiotics (even after feeling well). I’ve also learned that we should never share our medicine with anyone”. Rhoda’s account captures the voice and experience of school children in Tanzania. The link to her story
Furthermore the trained schoolchildren have been able to share their AMR knowledge gained in different regions of Tanzania. Below is the link to the stories of some AMR champions https://rbainitiative.or.tz/events.php
The RBA Initiative has increased the AMR knowledge of AMR school club members in different aspects from 37% to above 90%. This included the knowledge that antibiotics cannot be used to treat flu (Venant E, Stanley BK, Mosha M et al., 2022).
Link to publication https://doi.org/10.1093/jacamr/dlac004.022
The head of Mkonze Secondary School, Mr. Andrew Rumishael, explained how the RBA Initiative’s AMR school clubs project is making positive change not only through AMR education but also through improving WASH infrastructure. Mr. Rumishael said, “”We are very grateful for the handwashing station.”” This station is a great help for current and future schoolchildren with hand hygiene. We have not only benefited from AMR education but also WASH infrastructure. He further explained how AMR education provided through this project benefited the community and the family members through trained students.
Link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hwOeXcTxCc
In order to reach more schoolchildren across a wider geographic area in Tanzania, The RBA Initiative intends to utilize the lessons learned from carrying out this project to expand the project and reach the wider geographical area and many more school children. As the organization keeps seeking for more support to scale up the project, it continues to engage the AMR champions who have already completed training but have moved to other schools in various regions to pursue their further studies by supporting and guiding them to continue spreading the key AMR messages in their communities and schools. As part of the sharing of best practices and to explore how this could be applied in other countries, the RBA Initiative has also been sharing the information about this project to different stakeholders at numerous national and international conferences and meetings.