Innovate4AMR is a global online competition inviting student teams from around the world to design innovative solutions for antimicrobial stewardship in resource-limited, healthcare settings. Innovate4AMR asked student teams to propose strategies to tackle the underuse, overuse and misuse of antibiotic prevalent in a range of settings, from hospitals and clinics to outpatient pharmacies. In addressing AMR, student teams working across disciplines have much to contribute in proposing how to redesign the healthcare system. ReAct and the IDEA (Innovation + Design Enabling Access) Initiative at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health are teaming up with the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA)–representing 1.3 million students from 127 countries–to organize this global competition.
“We hope to engage and enlist the next generation of leaders in developing innovative, scalable approaches to address the challenge of conserving existing antibiotics. Those in the healthcare sector have a particularly crucial role to play in finding new solutions,” said Anthony So, MD, MPA, Director, ReAct Strategic Policy Program and IDEA Initiative.
With over 1000 people signed up for the listserv, Innovate4AMR received 145 proposals from student teams around the world. After several rounds of judging, first by an IFMSA-ReAct-WHO Technical Review Panel and then by a panel of Expert Judges, 11 winning teams were selected from Peru, India, Uganda, Honduras, Nigeria, Canada, the Philippines, the USA and China. Students from these teams will have the opportunity to present their proposals at a capacity-building workshop, supported by the World Health Organization and South Centre, in Geneva during World Antibiotic Awareness Week. There, students will attend talks and workshops on AMR, discuss with experts how to make strategic improvements to their innovation, and receive feedback on how best to operationalize their project.
“As future healthcare professionals, IFMSA is extremely concerned about the consequences of antimicrobial resistance on communities around the world. With Innovate4AMR, we aim to empower students across the globe to join the fight for a world free of untreatable infections. We hope that by building capacity, the brilliant ideas of the winning teams will be put into action”, said Teodor Blidaru, Liaison Officer to Student Organizations of the IFMSA.
Antimicrobial resistance, or AMR, occurs when bacteria develop the ability to stop the drugs used to treat them. 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 to10 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. Innovate4AMR seeks to engage student teams to propose strategies to tackle the underuse, overuse and misuse of antibiotic prevalent in many settings. These problems persist too often today, from hospitals and clinics to outpatient pharmacies. In addressing AMR, student teams working across disciplines have much to contribute in proposing how to redesign the healthcare system.
“We are very impressed with the projects the winning teams have come up with and we very much look forward to meeting them in Geneva. As accomplished student leaders, we believe they have real potential to drive change in the field of AMR,” said Virginie Marchand, Research Program Coordinator with the ReAct Strategic Policy Program and the IDEA Initiative at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.