Campaigners implore students to join antibiotic resistance

Activists from SERIOUSLY, a high profile national campaign which aims to tackle what the NHS claims is the “biggest threat to health” humans will ever face, brought the message to a frosty campus on Thursday as part of a city wide effort to highlight the pressing health issue of antibiotic misuse.

According to organisers, the NHS funded campaign is “particularly interested in student involvement in Leeds and creating awareness of this potential global health issue” as it believes that many students are “not finishing [their] courses of antibiotics.”

The exhibit brought along eye-catching red balloons displaying frightening statistics of the possible future of healthcare. Key messages included the projection that by 2050, drug resistant superbugs are projected to “kill more people than cancer” and that even scratches could become deadly. The stark messages certainly grabbed the attention of passers by, causing one cyclist to halt in his tracks in order to discuss the problem.

Amy Perring told The Gryphon that, while the cold November weather seemed to be discouraging some students from engaging with the campaign, people were stopping and using the proffered iPad to sign up and “join the resistance”.

Thus far, the pledge has gained an impressive 2,000 signatories, reaching members of the public through a similar exhibit on Briggate and at Varsity earlier in the year.

Perring said that although GPs have since become “stricter” in doling out antibiotics, students were still not fully cognisant of the challenge antibiotic resistance represents to healthcare and that although she could “understand why students find it annoying” to complete their courses of antibiotics, it was vital to do so. She implored students to resist the temptation to “save up” antibiotics ready for future illness – a key issue for students given the cost of prescriptions.

The problem was focalised last year when Leeds became the centre for an outbreak of drug-resistant strain of gonorrhoea. It affected at least twelve people in the North West, triggering a national alert. If we do not take drastic measures to reduce our reliance on the crucial class of drugs, incidents like this will become increasingly common.

Sarah Berry


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