Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a recognized public health threat today globally. Although many active and passive stewardship strategies are advocated to counter AMR clinically, educating school going children on AMR could be a cost-effective measure to minimize AMR development in the future. We implemented NICE's e-bug as a module to educate class VII school students on AMR determinants. A prospective quasi-experimental study on 327 students from nine different schools of class VII around Manipal town, Udupi district, Karnataka state, India were included in the study. Ten questions on AMR determinants from the e-bug program were used in written pre-test. After an education intervention, a post-test was conducted. Descriptive statistics to estimate epidemiological characteristics, Wilcoxon Signed Ranks and Kruskal⁻Wallis tests were applied to analyze statistical significance of pre/post-test performance scores and between schools. Students had inadequate knowledge on seven AMR determinants (antimicrobial indication, its course, hand hygiene, fermentation, spread of infection, microbial multiplication and characteristics of microbe) as analyzed from the post-test performance (p < 0.05). Comparison of post-test performance between schools showed significant improvement in scores (p < 0.05) for three questions (definition on antimicrobial, cover while cough/sneezing and microbial characteristics). Although students exhibited sub-optimal knowledge on some AMR determinants, they showed keenness to learn, which was evident by their post-test performance. Our findings and previous similar studies from Europe are suggestive of early pedagogic interventions on AMR through inclusion of such education modules in the regular school curriculum could be a potential tool for AMR prevention.
Keywords: India; antimicrobial resistance; community; e-bug; education; pharmacists; school; stewardship; students.