19 May 2016
A campaign designed to help tackle antibiotic resistance by educating parents about the effective use and side effects of antibiotics, and providing effective tips for caring for children suffering from some common childhood illnesses, has just received national plaudits.
The Listen to Your Gut campaign, which was co-produced by parents at a North Devon Children’s centre alongside Devon County Council and health partners from Northern Devon Healthcare Trust and NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (NHS NEW Devon CCG), received national recognition at the Antibiotic Guardians awards in Birmingham on Friday 13 May, winning the Community Category.
The project has been developed to be part of the national Antibiotic Guardian campaign and is now widely used in other parts of England.
The campaign aimed to change the way parents view the role of antibiotics in treating common illnesses such as coughs and colds, through the use of a video animation and social media messages to start conversations about caring for a young child with a viral infection, and providing information on how antibiotics can damage gut flora that support good health, when not used properly.
Dr Tom Lewis, consultant microbiologist for Northern Devon Healthcare Trust, said: “This campaign is all about raising awareness, so it is fantastic that it has been recognised on a national level.
“There is lots of new research that suggests that losing our healthy bugs can make us more likely to develop a wide range of illnesses, including diabetes. A loss of healthy bugs may even lead to weight gain. Many people do not realise that taking antibiotics can kill healthy bugs too. This campaign is helping us to get this important message across so that people only use antibiotics when they really need them."
The award was presented by Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor John Watson and Dr Diane Ashiru-Oredope, the pharmacist lead for the PHE antimicrobial resistance programme to Martin White and Ruth Dale from Devon County Council’s Public Health team, on behalf of the partnership. Other campaign partners included parents and staff from the Braunton and Ilfracombe Sure Start Children’s Centre, microbiologists, doctors and prescribing experts.
Councillor Andrea Davis was herself part of the campaign, sporting her ‘gut face’ which formed part of the social media interaction.
“We are very proud of this campaign, because it was the result of genuine collaboration and innovation from all the partners involved.
“We were so fortunate to have had the expertise of microbiologist Tom Lewis, and local GP Darunee Whiting, who was a real local ambassador for the campaign.
“But at the heart of this work and the driving force behind its success were the Ilfracombe children’s centre and the community of mums, who shaped the campaign and really got behind it.
“It’s important that we don’t lose the momentum, and I hope this campaign will continue to change people’s understanding of antibiotics.
“We must act now to slow resistance down, and in order to do this we need to cut the unnecessary use of antibiotics.”
Dr Virginia Pearson, Devon Director of Public Health said: “The aim of the campaign was to develop and build a better understanding among parents and carers of the importance of our gut flora in protecting our bodies, and the impact antibiotics have on these gut flora.
“Antibiotics perform a vital role in treating infections, enabling operations to be carried out safely and in treatment like chemotherapy. It is for this reason we need to preserve them for future generations.
“This campaign aimed to give parents the confidence to treat their children’s common illnesses like coughs and colds, without seeking antibiotics as a treatment.”
The national Antibiotic Guardian campaign is inviting the public, students and educators, farmers, the veterinary and medical communities and professional organisations, to all become Antibiotic Guardians by choosing one pledge about how they will make better use of antibiotics and help save these vital medicines from becoming obsolete.
For further information go to www.listentoyourgut.org.uk