1st November 2022

Change is never easy. No matter our profession, all of us find it difficult to disrupt a current habit while simultaneously fostering a new, sometimes unfamiliar, set of actions. Yet changing traditional behaviours, such as prescribing practices, is crucial if we are to effectively tackle the rise of antimicrobial resistance. In this article, Dr Esmita Charani explains how an e-learning course is challenging students to change the way they treat patients…

Back in 2019, we partnered with BSAC to develop and launch a Massive Open Online Course called Tackling Antimicrobial Resistance: A Social Science Approach. The course focuses on how we can use qualitative research to capture what challenges healthcare workers face in optimising antibiotic use in different countries. It has certainly proved popular – to date, the course has had 3000 learners from over 150 countries.

Part of the course’s success is due to the way it brings people together to share their experiences. There are opportunities for interacting with the learners and discussing the challenges they face in their settings to optimise antibiotic use. This exercise of interaction between the learners and course educators provides an opportunity for gathering diverse experiences of healthcare workers in different countries and how they have managed to work around these challenges

For example, in many parts of the world, persisting ill-defined roles for pharmacists and nurses limit the involvement of these critical healthcare professional groups in activities targeting the improvement of antibiotic use. There is also a gap in how behaviours and prescribing practices are supported through evidence-based policies. Consistent data on antibiotic consumption and antimicrobial resistance is lacking in most countries. Without this data, it is difficult to be able to influence change. To change practices we must first be able to measure them

Additionally, we need to think broadly and bring in all the different specialities that work in healthcare settings, including surgeons. The use of technology to support healthcare workers is lagging and many people are still behind in having access to the right tools to help them optimise their decisions, including prescribing systems and diagnostic tests to identify the infections in a timely manner.

Interested in learning more? Tackling Antimicrobial Resistance: A Social Science Approach is open for registration. Visit Future Learn to find out more.

Dr Esmita Charani is Reader (AMR and Global Health), University of Liverpool and Honorary Associate Professor, University of Cape Town

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