World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) is celebrated from 18 to 24 November every year. The theme of this year's WAAW is 'Preventing antimicrobial resistance together.' World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) is a global campaign held annually to raise awareness and understanding of AMR and encourage best practices among the public. In celebration of World Antimicrobial Awareness Week, we would like to reshare a student project from the Introduction to Infectious Diseases and One Health course offered under the Parami Institute of Continuing Education (PICE) at Parami University in Spring 2022.
Students participated in a One Health Hackathon to pitch their final project on finding solutions to global issues using the One Health perspective. One Health is a concept that promotes the well-being of humans, animals, and environmental health. The Hackathon event was organized by two instructors, Soe Yu Naing, M.SC., and Max Van Wijk, M.SC., of the Introduction to Infectious Diseases and One Health course of Parami Spring 2022. The term Hackathon comes from a combination of hack and marathon, it is a 2-3 days non-stop activity where students develop a sustainable solution for real-world problems.
We spoke with two groups of students from the class whose projects focus on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) in the context of aquaculture (fish farming) with different but feasible solutions. By educating the public about the AMR issue, they aim to prevent its harmful effects on the health of humans and animals, and the environment, particularly aquatic ecosystems.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is
the cause of the constant changing of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites that no longer show a reaction to medicines. It makes infections harder to treat and increases the risk of disease spread, leading to severe illness and death. AMR is also a complex global health issue that threatens the prevention and treatment of infections, particularly in low-and middle-income countries (LMIC), due to a higher prevalence of infections in combination with poor regulation of antibiotics.
To combat the rising Antimicrobial Resistance issues in aquaculture and to use antimicrobial agents effectively, Kyi Sin Su and Cherry Win (Group 1) proposed to develop an application for their project. According to the group's research, the use of Antimicrobials (agent that kills microorganisms in aquafarming has become common. And the prolonged presence of the agents in the water could cause resistant bacterial strains, explained Cherry Win.
"I found AMR an interesting topic. It has become a big issue within a region here. As my teammate and I are medical students, we have heard the term and understand that drug resistance is difficult to treat. Throughout this course, we learned that it could spread to environmental health. We decided to work on this topic as Myanmar needs education on AMR." Kyi Sin Su explained.
Recognizing the issue of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR), Thunn Thitsar Swe Sin (Emery) and Hnin Inzali (Group 2) also decided to work on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) in aquaculture for their final project. The project encourages the aquaculture industry to choose antibiotic alternatives for a sustainable future.
"Aquaculture plays an important role in our daily lives. Around 17% of the protein resource we consume is from aquaculture. People overuse or misuse antibiotics in fisheries and aquaculture without considering the consequences of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). AMR is a threatening issue for humans, animals, and the environment. However, we have not seen many people raising awareness about this issue, and AMR surveillance in aquaculture is still lacking," said Emery.
Emery and Hnin Inzali pitched a community project to surveillance AMR in aquaculture in the Ayeyarwady Delta Region. They proposed a website that can serve as an information hub for fish farmers and the general public to learn more about Antimicrobial Resistance and safe aquaculture practices.
"Raising awareness is an essential step. Therefore, providing educational training will help fisheries owners be aware of the impact of the Antimicrobial Resistance issue not only on their products and economy. Also, it can backfire on human health and ecosystems," added Hnin Inzali.
The students urge everyone working in aquaculture and the industry that uses antibiotics to be aware of the Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) issue as it threatens global health and development.
Students expressed that the knowledge and skills they gained from the Introduction to Infectious Diseases and One Health course were practical and transferable. The class allows students to explore diverse topics, including the One Health concept and the infectious diseases caused by globalization, climate change, rapid urbanization, and other factors. Upon completing the course, they developed and enhanced research and reading skills through flipped classroom activity and honed their interpersonal communication and collaboration skills through group projects.