Countries drive success of World Antibiotic Awareness Week 2017

Budapest Medical Students’ Association

“Wash your Hands” campaign with kindergarten children in Budapest

On 13–19 November 2017, countries of the WHO European Region marked World Antibiotic Awareness Week (WAAW), along with European Antibiotic Awareness Day on 18 November. In 2017, the focus of the week for the Region was the link between proper hand hygiene – a key infection prevention and control measure – and controlling antimicrobial resistance (AMR). To support the 53 countries of the Region, WHO/Europe and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) developed and distributed a joint media toolkit for the first time. Dozens of countries across the Region took part in this important campaign, acting as the driving force behind its success.

Countries approached the week in various ways, from distributing campaign materials such as posters and leaflets to sharing key messages via social media, from media outreach and interviews to flash mobs. Many other events were scheduled throughout the week, including scientific conferences and workshops, trainings, press conferences and workshops for journalists, lectures for university students and school events.

The majority of countries in the Region recognized WAAW, and a total of 37 countries (70%) have participated in a formal evaluation of WAAW activities, as of mid-January. Of those participants:

  • 31 countries used the WHO-developed campaign materials (83% of reporting countries), primarily by distributing posters and leaflets and sharing the videos.
  • 27 countries further developed their own materials (72%), and most also translated WHO materials into local languages.
  • 30 countries involved the media (81%), primarily through press releases, TV briefs and press conferences.
  • 27 countries used social media (72%) to share WAAW messages, mainly via Facebook and Twitter.
  • The majority of countries held at least one and often multiple events during WAAW.

Many countries engaged in more than one of the activities listed above.

Highlights from the week

  • Turkmenistan marked WAAW with the signing of the National Strategy for Counteracting the Development of Antimicrobial Resistance 2017–2025. The Strategy and its action plan were presented during 2 key national meetings.
  • In Hungary, the Budapest Medical Students’ Association mobilized 40 volunteers to approach different target groups to raise awareness and provide information. For example, the volunteers visited kindergartens to teach children about the spread of an infection, illustrated by shaking hands and playing after dyeing their palms with different colours. This game was followed by a lesson on the technique of proper handwashing.
  • Tashkent Institute for Postgraduate Medical Education in Uzbekistan hosted a friendly competition between 3 medical schools on 17 November. Teams of undergraduate and postgraduate students presented their knowledge of AMR, as well as the importance of prudent antibiotic use and effective infection prevention. Each team used different and inspiring approaches to deliver the key messages to the audience.