UCI student-led awareness campaign brings antibiotic resistance messages to the forefront

Dr. Dele Ogunseitan

To raise awareness of the threat of antibiotic resistance and the importance of appropriate antibiotic use, a group of UCI Public Health students have spearheaded an educational awareness campaign to inform their fellow students and UCI staff and faculty about the public health threat that antibiotic resistance poses. In a 2020 survey, nearly 60% of UCI students did NOT understand antibiotic resistance, therefore, the need for antibiotic stewardship couldn’t be more urgent.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, antibiotic resistance is a global health threat and happens when germs like bacteria and fungi develop the ability to defeat the drugs designed to kill them. That means the germs are not killed and continue to grow. Without swift action, societies face a staggering level of unnecessary loss of life in the future: By 2050, antibiotic resistance will have caused one death every three seconds and an increased death toll from the current 700,000 to 10 million. And all of this will come at a cost of $100 trillion in global production.

To educate their fellow Anteaters about the appropriate use of antibiotics, the UCI student-led campaign being launched is called: Antibiotic Stewardship is Public Health campaign – a component of the global platform This is Public Health. The students are taking advantage of the upcoming Antibiotic Awareness Week (Nov. 18 – 24) and using several different communication tools, including through social media outreach, coalition handbook creation, educational content creation, and leadership training to spread their message to the UCI community.

“We’re trying to increase public awareness by effectively translating knowledge into action and forming international partnerships, starting at UCI, to tackle the growing threat of antibiotic-resistant infections,” said student organizer Sarah Wang, a UCI health policy alumna. “In the U.S. alone, 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths are caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. And the Africa sub-continent is expected to bear a disproportionately heavy burden of diseases due to failing antibiotic therapy.”

Prompted by the work of UC Presidential Chair and professor of population health and disease prevention Oladele “Dele” Ogunseitan, MPH, PhD, UCI students from several disciplines have set out to inform their fellow students about the problems that could stem from antibiotic resistance in a comprehensive antibiotic stewardship campaign to educate the community about the problem.

“Improving antibiotic stewardship globally will require multisectoral efforts. The challenge encompasses an array of professions and academic disciplines in addition to public health, including agriculture, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, environmental science, behavioral science, community health, and more,” Ogunseitan said.

The group includes students from across the campus. Primary organizers include PhD student and TIPH Global Ambassador Gabrielle Gussin, UCI Public Health alumni Tamara Jimah, PhD, and Sarah Wang. Additional team members include undergraduate students Payton Alaama (Political Science) Brenda Avila (Neuroscience) Ernesto Cortes (Biological Sciences) Iliana Rosas (Sociology and Chicano/Latino Studies), Kiratjot “Kirat” Singh (Public Health Policy) and Jennifer Velasco (Public Health Science).

The group has also forged the “Zot Antibiotic Stewards” Coalition with eight key members including UCI Public Health, the Anteater Recreation Center, and the California Public Interest Research Group, with 4,000+ pledging members and the “Stop the Antibiotic Overuse” Campaign, which was recently led by Sarah Wang and competed nationally to stop antibiotic overuse by 2030. Pledge to become an antibiotic steward today.


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