Creative campaigns spread awareness on antibiotic resistance

November 2017

Campaign materials from Vaud, Switzerland on antibiotic resistance
Campaign materials from Vaud, Switzerland on antibiotic resistance

Colourful anime characters, quirky mobile games and clinic waiting room fun - this year some countries are testing out more creative methods of engaging the public in a discussion about antibiotic resistance, and they’ve got our attention!

Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest global health challenges we are facing this century, as drugs which help fight infections start to become ineffective. When it comes to serious issues like antibiotic resistance, the reality of the situation can be daunting and it can be hard to share information with the public without sending a message of doom and gloom. The good news is that everyone can play a role in slowing the emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance and countries like Finland, Japan and Switzerland have found creative ways of letting their audience know.

In Japan the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare is collaborating with “Gundam” a Japanese anime franchise, to promote awareness on antimicrobial resistance (AMR). One of Gundam’s popular fictional characters Amuro, a mechanic, pilot and protector, has now been tasked with a new challenge – protecting the public from AMR through education.

"Gundam has been recognized by many people across generations since 1979," said a statement from the Japanese Ministry of Health. "We hope many will be interested to know more about AMR and optimal use of antibiotics through the products. More awareness raising not only among health care workers but also among patients and their families is critical."

One of the character Amuro’s catchphrases 'Amuro ikimasu!' ('Amuro is heading out!'), is repurposed on the posters to suit the cause, he now cries, 'AMR taisaku ikimasu!' ('AMR countermeasures are heading out!').

In Finland, a gaming company has released an innovative game to tackle misinformation about vaccines and the misuse of antibiotics. The Vaccine Board of the Parliament of Finland is very supportive of the game saying, ‘We are pleased to hear that the Finnish game industry is a forerunner in this matter. Finland wants to promote health all over the world this way’.

"The whole game is set under a slightly-futuristic microscope, where the player has control over the position and type of human immune cells," said lead game designer Matthew Bond. "It draws the player into a complex yet thrilling adventure through the human immune system."

Exciting educational games have the potential to simplify complex scientific information to reach more people including younger generations.

In Switzerland, the canton of Vaud has found a creative way to reach health care professionals and the general public using a fun memory game. HPCi Vaud, a local government health unit for the prevention and control of infections, created a colourful game for health care facilities to use in their waiting rooms to educate their patients on antibiotics and antibiotic resistance.

Following WHO and The Federal Office of Public Health’s work on antibiotic resistance, HPCi Vaud created the game as part of an awareness campaign. They are sending the games to health care facilities throughout the canton in the lead up to and during World Antibiotic Awareness Week on 13-19 November.

"Our goal is to inform the public about the function of antibiotics and their proper use," said May-Kou Ku Moroni, communications manager at HPCi Vaud. "We wanted to simplify the problem by outlining the behaviours that can contribute to the development of antibiotic resistance, and by offering three simple practical tips to memorize and provide answers to frequently asked questions."

The games are sent along with other materials designed to educate health care workers and facility management about the awareness campaign. This helps them to be better placed to inform patients and their families.

"We hope this campaign will help sensitize the population to rational consumption and to become actors in the fight against antibiotic resistance," said Ku Moroni.

More and more countries and organizations are finding new and creative ways to reach out to the general public and educate them on the threat of antibiotic resistance. As this trend picks up pace, we hope to see it raising awareness worldwide and helping curb the emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance.