Innovate4AMR: Innovate for a World Free from the Fear of Untreatable Infections

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.

That is why ReAct–Action on Antibiotic Resistance, IFMSA, the World Health Organization, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and South Centre have joined forces to organize Innovate4AMR for the second time, following last year’s first global innovation challenge in solving Antimicrobial Resistance. 

In its second year, Innovate4AMR has gained widespread interest from both students and professionals working in the field. Through Summer 2019, the organizers had  called for student teams from all around the world for their solutions on Antimicrobial Stewardship in resource-limited settings, with a video from WHO’s Assistant Director General, Dr Hanan Balkhy also encouraging students to apply.

“Since Innovate4AMR’s inception at last year’s World Antibiotic Awareness Week workshop, I have strongly advocated that students bring their fresh perspective to drive action on antimicrobial resistance. Innovative solutions are what we need. Beyond this workshop, I hope to see these winning teams implementing their projects across the world and changing how we approach AMR globally,” said Dr Marc Sprenger, Director of  Surveillance, Prevention and Control, WHO’s AMR Division.

With more than 1250 young health advocates signed up for the competition, Innovate4AMR received 163 submissions from teams coming from 40 countries. After several rounds of judging, first by an IFMSA-ReAct-WHO Technical Review Panel and then by a panel of International Expert Judges. The following 10 winning teams were selected to participate at the capacity-building workshop in Geneva supported by the World Health Organization and South Centre: 

  1. amRx (Hong Kong), 
  2. Batibot (The Philippines)
  3. Blue Eagles (The Philippines)
  4. C² (Australia)
  5. PharmLinks (Tanzania)
  6. AS (Indonesia)
  7. pill-Alert (South Africa)
  8. SAVE – System for Antibiotic Vigilance and Equity (India, Sri Lanka, China)
  9. SNARE (Indonesia), 
  10. The “ART-IPA” Initative (Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France)

Students from these teams have the opportunity to present their proposals at the capacity-building workshop during World Antibiotic Awareness Week to an Expert Review Panel, including . 

“As medical students and future healthcare providers, IFMSA is extremely concerned about AMR, and considers it as one of its main global priorities. Today with Innovate4AMR we aim to give the chance to youth to step up and bring their ideas and solutions to the world, to empower and assist them with tools, knowledge and expertise so that they can create and apply innovative solutions in their countries and be today’s AMR champions and changemakers.”, said Saad Uakkas, Liaison Officer to Student Organizations of the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations. 

During the event, students will attend seminars 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. The aim is that after returning to their home countries, the teams will be equipped with the knowledge to implement their projects.

“We hope to motivate, engage and enlist the next generation of leaders in healthcare to  develop innovative, scalable approaches that address antimicrobial resistance and inquitable access to antimicrobials,” said Anthony So, MD, MPA, Director, ReAct Strategic Policy Program and IDEA (Innovation+Design Enabling Access) Initiative at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

For more information about Innovate4AMR, visit Innovate4AMR.or or please contact Prateek Sharma (ReAct and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health) [email protected]

Innovate4AMR was organized by:

International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA) 

ReAct–Action on Antibiotic Resistance 

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and

South Centre

with support from the 

World Health Organization –

Teams and projects

Team ART-IPA—Project: The “ART-IPA” Initiative

This inter-professional and international team aims to reduce inappropriate antimicrobial prescriptions in Indian Primary Health Centers while increasing awareness among doctors and patients regarding AMR and optimal practices. Their solution is patient education and engagement through an interactive arts initiative and the training of doctors in optimal AMR practices.

Team C2—Project: Ŋamakuli

The team of two recent Australian medical graduates aims to tackle skin and soft tissue infections that cause heavy antibiotic use in rural and remote Indigenous communities  of Australia. Their project, the ŋamakuli program is a regionally-coordinated, mobile van-based community skin infection program for remote Indigenous communities in the Top End of Australia.

Team Pharmlinks—Project PharmLinks: Medicines Retailing Solution

PharmLinks draws on its team’s diverse backgrounds (students of medical, pharmacy and also computer science) to target the private sector supply of Pharmaceutical Products in Tanzania where there is Limited data about supply of the Pharmaceutical products. Their idea is to create a pharmaceutical supply chain Platform that links Suppliers & Importers of Pharmaceutical products to Retail Pharmacies, Drug Outlets, Private labs & Private Health Facilities. This will allow monitoring the trends of medicines flow

Team AS— Project: AMRaware 

The project which is by two pharmacy students from Indonesia, tackles the problem of the general public’s unawareness regarding antimicrobial resistance. The team hopes to build a team of people that will run a social media account that aims to provide information, stories, and tips regarding antibiotics and antimicrobial resistance. This will aim to inform and educate the Indonesian youth about AMR.

Team Blue Eagles—Project APLAYA: A Compliance and Surveillance Application for Gonorrhea

The team consists of five Filipino third-year students pursuing joint MD-MBA degrees who aim to tackle the issue of resistant Gonorrhea by creating a mobile  application, APLAYA. The project takes an mHealth approach to improve the monitoring and surveillance of pharmacologic therapy for multiple drug resistant gonorrhea infections among Filipinos in low-resource settings.

Team SAVE—ProjectSAVE: System for Antibiotic Vigilance and Equity

The team consists of medical students from Sichaun University that aim to monitor and catalogue antibiotic usage across China, provide cost-effective yet expedited access in rural areas, and to be a source of information for AMR and antibiotics use. Their solution: the SAVE Mini-Program aims to combine two prominent apps in China (WeChat (social media) and Taobao (e-commerce) and integrate them with existing Hospital Information Systems across China. 

Team Pill-Alert— Project: Pill Alert

The team consists of two Medical students from South Africa. They have designed an innovative approach using cell-phone based technology to send automated alerts via text messages (SMS) to remind patients to take their medication on time. This mobile health (mHealth) intervention seeks to improve patient compliance to treatment, thereby significantly reducing Antimicrobial Resistance. 

Team Batibot—Project ANTIBIOTXT: An Outpatient SMS-based Active Monitoring and Adherence System for Antibiotic Misuse Reduction

The proposed solution combines multiple strategies to combat inappropriate use in outpatient settings resulting in an efficient, cost-effective, and accessible digital active monitoring and adherence system (AntibioTXT). AntibioTXT will utilize short message service (SMS) as a tool to: (1) increase patient adherence to antibiotic regimen; (2) enable doctors to delay antibiotic prescribing; (3) directly educate patients on AMR; and (4) generate standardized and accurate data of antibiotic use.

Team amRx—Project amRx: Powering Evidence-based Prescription for Everyday Practice

In accordance with a personalized approach to medicine, amRx will serve as a decision-support tool for evidence-based prescription of antibiotics where existing guidelines are non-existent, lacking or maladaptive. AmRx consists of two parts: a neural-network enabled backend and a mobile/web app interface. This data could be better utilized to provide individualized suggestions to antibiotic regimens, based on the predicted causative organism.

Team SNARE–Project SNARE: Student National Action on Antimicrobial Resistance

Student National Action on Antimicrobial Resistance (SNARE) is developed by three pharmacy students to address issues revolving around education on AMR in Indonesia. It centers on improving access and equity on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) education. SNARE hopes to also build awareness in youth by encouraging university students’ involvement in executing essential government programs.

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