Antimicrobial Resistance is a global health threat that requires the involvement of multi-stakeholders using a one health approach. Students are key change agents in addressing AMR. It is therefore important that we create, mentor and support knowledgeable and inspired AMR champions who understand that sustained action needs to be taken.” Dr. Mirfin Mpundu, Director, React Africa and lead mentor of the Antimicrobial Resistance Leaders Program.
In recent years, there has been growing recognition of the need for emerging healthcare professionals, public health experts, policymakers, and – other stakeholders to come together to combat AMR. According to Julian Nyamupachitu, the AMRLEP program recognizes the critical role experienced professionals can play in shaping the next generation of AMR – champions in Africa. ReAct Africa is committed to supporting and leveraging their vast potential.
Leveraging on the pilot program initiated in 2021, where 90 students from eight African countries, including Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Tanzania, participated in the Antimicrobial Resistance Leaders Program (AMRLEP), which was organised by ReAct Africa in partnership with Students Against Superbugs Africa, the PAR Foundation sponsored follow up activities in the AMRLEP. This program was unique in its focus on bringing together young people from across the continent. It was designed to increase awareness of AMR, offer mentorship opportunities, and inspire action in their respective countries.
ReAct Africa, a leading organization in Africa dedicated to addressing AMR, has been at the forefront of engaging young people in the fight against AMR. “When the leadership program started, the initial idea was to focus only on capacity building – have experts come in and talk to the students. But later, we thought it better to have the students themselves present and get actively engaged.” – Julian Nyamupachitu
ReAct Africa has also supported participants of AMRLEP in participating in AMR events outside of the AMRLEP program including National AMR Awareness events in Kenya and Uganda, community outreach events including AMR awareness walks, photo essay competitions organized jointly with the AMR national multi-sector coordinating committee in Kenya. According to Julian Nyamupachitu, React Africa hopes to build on the current success and continue promoting advocacy action among young people.
Components of the AMRLEP Program
The AMRLEP program has been instrumental in supporting activities aimed at mentoring young leaders in the field of antimicrobial resistance. In Uganda, students from the program were invited to the “My Turn” events where a number of experts from the various multisectorial ministries and academia were in attendance. The My Turn Uganda event was organised in collaboration with the International Livestock Research Institute(ILRI). “My Turn” event for Uganda students was held in Kampala, Uganda. The main objective was to provide a platform where tertiary-level students in Uganda showcase their work, ideas, potential projects, and innovative AMR prevention and mitigation solutions in line with the WAAW 2022 theme “Preventing Antimicrobial Resistance together”. The ‘My Turn’ events offer a platform for a peer-to-peer learning and sharing of best practices as they also learn from various experts with a One Health focus. Over 80 students from 10 universities across Uganda attended. Prizes were awarded to students in the ART, Community Engagement and Research & Innovation categories. Students who attended demonstrated exceptional resourcefulness, dedication, passion, and drive during the event proceedings. Another similar event will take place in Kenya in June 2023.
A mentorship program was established and is ongoing. 138 students applied for the mentorship program from 16 different countries. With an average of three students per mentor, 28 mentors signed up for the program, offering guidance and support to the mentees.
The program has already yielded positive results, particularly in various research fields, with mentees engaging in fruitful interactions with their mentors who have years of experience in the AMR field.
To further support the students, a website was launched in 2022, which offers a platform to showcase the work the students are doing and build a network of mentors and mentees in the AMR space globally by connecting the students with experts and raising AMR awareness. Webinars on various topics are also hosted on various AMR topics including soft skills. , ReAct Africa HAS ALSO partnered with FAO and World Animal Protection- Africa to raise awareness on these AMR and organise a youth competition targeting students across Africa with the theme “Preventing AMR together” in 2022.
In addition, ReAct Africa partnered with other youthled initiatives such as Youth Actions Against Antimicrobial Resistance (AJRAM) to translate messages into French and raise awareness for Francophone students during World Antimicrobial Awareness Week 2022
As a way to contribute to the body of AMR research, the AMRLEP program also submitted an abstract to participate in the annual Global Health Network Conference 2022 with the title ” Mobilizing Youth in Africa for Action on Antimicrobial Resistance through a Leadership Program”.
When asked about the future of the project, Julian said that “The project will continue to focus on the capacity buidling, mentoring, providing technical guidance and support to the students in the African region with the goal of having empowered student leaders in Africa who are problem solvers and solution providers for the Antimicrobial Resistance global health threat”, We are entirely grateful for the support from the PAR Foundation, Julian concluded.
One of the online sessions ongoing
For more information about the program, visit https://amrleadersprogram.org/