Antibiotics & You – an online course by Dr Roger Harrison

Dr Roger Harrison is a Senior Lecturer in Public Health, in the Centre for Epidemiology at The University of Manchester

As the global population continues to suffer the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the importance of effective public health research and education has been emphasised like never before. We are all recognising the essential role that organised community efforts and informed individual choices have on preventing disease and prolonging life.  

With an established track-record in public health research in both the NHS and academia, Dr Roger Harrison has dedicated his career to assessing the effectiveness of health and lifestyle interventions on chronic disease. Using this expertise, he has also established an impressive range of public engagement initiatives to raise awareness of the most significant public health issues, such as antimicrobial and antibiotic drug resistance (AR). On target to kill over 10 million people per year worldwide by 2050, the unnecessary use of antibiotics is a major threat to the effective treatment of disease. Promoting global understanding and cooperation to reduce the spread of AR is therefore imperative. By maximising opportunities for students to then implement positive change in civil society, Dr Harrison’s work is making major steps toward achieving this goal.  

After his involvement in a ‘Beat the Bugs’ workshop aimed at schoolchildren, Dr Harrison worked with the University to expand this initiative into an AR awareness week of events. The programme, entitled ‘Action on Antibiotic Drug Resistance: One Student. One Campus. One World’, included lectures, debates and campus-wide recruitment to the national Antibiotic Guardian campaign to further spread the message on AR. He is currently working to define a curriculum on AR education for all undergraduate health professional students and has received funding from Antibiotic Research UK to develop a programme training students to deliver AR education. 

Following the success of his local public engagement efforts, Dr Harrison has extended his initiatives to an international scale. With support from students he connected with via social media, he established ISPARE Global, the International Students’ Partnership for Antibiotic Resistance Education. This network unites students from Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda to implement public engagement work, including educational activities for schoolchildren in these countries and a host of wider public engagement initiatives. Dr Harrison continues to tackle AR on a global scale by conducting research in Uganda to support health professionals in effectively treating bacterial infections, and developing educational materials for use in Kenya that highlight AR as a major barrier to meeting sustainable development goals.  

Most recently, Dr Harrison has launched the first online open access course on AR specifically targeting the general public. “Antibiotics and You” reflects the collaborative efforts of students, patients and national charities. It explains the fundamentals of AR infections, highlights the universal scale of the problem and combats common misunderstandings. Crucially, participants are educated on the human activities that are accelerating the issue and simple, everyday behaviours to help contain AR in local communities. Taking just 90 minutes to complete, the course can be easily accessed at https://bit.ly/antibiotics-and-you. Why not give it a go? 

As he continues to develop innovative worldwide strategies to engage the public on the most significant health issues, we are excited to be sharing more of Dr Harrison’s activities and material on the LIVE with Scientists platform. Together, we have the tools to combat the spread of disease and promote longer, healthier lives! 

~This article was written by Jess on behalf of the LIVE with Scientists team.~ 

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