With  financial support of Global Affairs Canada, and in partnership with the Dr Ameyo Stella Adadevoh Health Trust (DRASA) , the  World Health Organization (WHO) is  empowering students to become effective agents on antimicrobial resistance and health hygiene.

“I didn’t know that antibiotics are for bacteria. If I am sick, we usually do self-medication. My mummy gives us drugs. We just go to the chemist and buy drugs. But you taught us more about antibiotics and that it is not for all diseases or sickness. Now I know that if we’re using antibiotics for the wrong disease we are endangering ourselves,” said Naomi from Lagos Progressive Senior High school in Lagos State.

Naomi Adenira is one of the 320 students’ ambassadors trained by DRASA with the support of WHO and Canada to become drivers of good health, hygiene and antibiotic practices. Relying on a network of Health and Hygiene Clubs in 10 schools across Lagos State, this training aims at empowering young people in playing a major role against the rising threat of antimicrobial resistance and the promotion of good hygiene.

Antimicrobial resistance is the ability of a microbe to become resistant to drugs that once were successful in treating the infection they cause. It is today one of the major health concerns worldwide. While resistance occurs naturally over time, the misuse and overuse of those drugs is accelerating it. This is of concern in Nigeria where drugs are needed to treat communicable diseases that still represent the major causes of morbidity and mortality. While 150,000 children under 5 die every year in Nigeria due to diarrhoea, the misuse and abuse of antibiotics have led strains of bacteria that cause diarrhoea to become more resistant to the drugs available.  

Educating people to better use those drugs and adhere to good hygiene practices is crucial to prevent the spread of such diseases and ensuring that drugs remain effective to treat patients. 

“Encouraging people to change their behaviours however require an approach to communication, education and awareness that goes beyond just educating or giving information. It is about engaging and empowering populations as well as changing perceptions to inspire new or different behaviours. School children play a critical role in changing these behaviours” said Niniola Soleye from DRASA. 

To read more visit the WHO Africa page here