Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when microbes develop resistance to the drugs we use to treat infections. With few truly novel classes of antibiotics coming to market, global attention has focused particularly on these antimicrobial drugs that treat bacterial infections. The more antibiotics are used, the greater the risk that bacterial resistance will develop. Antibiotics are the cornerstone of many of the miracles of modern day medicine, from cancer chemotherapy to organ donation. The loss of effective antibiotics would mean reverting back to a time when simple infections might become untreatable. Each year, 700,000 people die due to drug-resistant infections and, if unchecked, this number may rise to 10 million deaths a year by 2050 — more than the number of people that die of cancer today. Antibiotics should, therefore, be considered a resource to be used with care. Yet underuse, overuse and misuse of antibiotics is prevalent in many settings, from hospitals and outpatient clinics to farms.

In 2015, Member States adopted a Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance at the World Health Assembly, and in 2016, the UN General Assembly took up a global health issue for only the fourth time in history and adopted the UN Political Declaration on AMR. Countries have actively worked to put in place National Action Plans on antimicrobial resistance. However, there remains an urgent need for developing innovative, scalable approaches to address the challenge of conserving existing antibiotics. This is an intersectoral challenge that will demand a society-wide response. However, healthcare professionals have a particularly crucial role to play in bringing attention to the issue, both within the healthcare setting and within their local and global communities.

Innovate4AMR seeks to engage student teams to design novel strategies for key actors that have influence over how antibiotics are used appropriately or not in the healthcare delivery system.

Teams may be composed of up to five students (see eligibility criteria on our website) and are encouraged to draw from interdisciplinary talents. Two members of each winning team would be supported to come to a capacity building workshop in Geneva, Switzerland. Additional members could attend with their own resources. Potential solutions should embrace a theory of change, focus appropriately on the local context, have plausible feasibility and the potential for scale-up and sustainability (both financially and logistically). A visual representation of the key actors and intervention points can be found in the Innovate4AMR educational materials.

In this challenge, we provide a brief overview of the key stakeholders and intervention pathways to ensure improved antimicrobial stewardship in resource-limited settings. As teams consider where to focus their proposed solution approach, we urge you to review closely the range of potential intervention points in the accompanying AMR Stewardship Prezi (linked here). We hope that the Prezi presentation will help inspire you to come up with creative solutions to this pressing global health challenge. We’re counting on you–our future generation of leaders.

Start by reviewing our Prezi Systems Diagram, which includes many educational resources. More resources can also be found in the pages under “Educational Resources.”