Dr Michael O'Rorke and Dr Philip Veal

Dr Philip Veal

Engaging school children in antibiotic awareness: a science collaboration between W5, the Public Health Agency and the Centre of Excellence for Public Health Northern Ireland

Congratulations to Dr Michael O'Rorke (UKCRC Centre of Excellence for Public Health NI) and Dr Philip Veal (Public Health Agency) who received 'Highly Commended Awards' at the recent Public Health England Antibiotic Awards Ceremony in London.

Bacteria are becoming resistant to the antibiotics that are currently available – meaning that the few antibiotics that we have developed in our arsenal may be ineffective for the same infection in that individual in the future. The issue with antibiotic resistance has arisen primarily due to the overuse and misuse of antibiotics. The aim of this project was to educate children on antimicrobial resistance and appropriate antibiotic use, and therefore influence parental behaviour and knowledge in this regard.

In 2006 the Health Protection Agency developed e-Bug (, a health education resource for 4-18 year olds, now operated by Public Health England. These freely available resources were used to introduce the children to the concept of microbes, antibiotic resistance and the spread, treatment and prevention of infections.

In a collaboration initiated by the Public Health Agency Northern Ireland with the Centre of Excellence for Public Health Northern Ireland and W5, we have now piloted the implementation of the e-Bug resources in several Northern Ireland schools including Templepatrick, Whitehouse and St James’s Primary Schools (Key-stage 2), Dalriada and Ballymoney High School (Key-stage 3) and Longstone special school) for children and young adults with moderate learning difficulties.

In terms of Future work, the Public Health Agency have been working with the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) to map the e-Bugs resources onto the Northern Ireland curriculum. To build the capacity for this, the Public Health Agency organised two ‘train the teacher’ events in June 2018, one of which was held in W5 and the other in Cookstown in order to provide Northern Ireland teachers with an introduction and overview of the e-Bugs resources and a run through of the various interactive activities involved.

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