UK’s top doctors back school musical in bid to inspire thousands of children to battle superbugs
The Chief Medical Officers for Scotland and England are urging schools across the UK to raise awareness of superbugs by putting on a free musical about the need to keep antibiotics working.
Dr Catherine Calderwood and Professor Dame Sally Davies will be launching The Mould that Changed the World musical at the National Museum of Scotland, and the Science Museum, respectively, this summer.
Ahead of its unveiling (which will be close to the 90th anniversary of Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin), they’re calling on as many schools as possible to sign up, so that children everywhere can inform and influence their friends and family about one of the biggest threats to global health.
I urge all schools to get involved in this exciting initiative. It is crucial that we increase awareness and ownership of the issue of antimicrobial resistance and this musical is a fantastic way to do this.
We saw with the emerging threat of climate change, and the introduction of recycling schemes, just how persuasive young people can be when spreading vital messages. Using the traditional power of song to share the story of antibiotics and the spread of resistance is a truly inspiring idea.”
Telling the story about the discovery of penicillin
Top antibiotics charity, the British Society of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy (BSAC) has teamed-up with Charades Musicals and the University of Edinburgh to create a compelling story that starts with the discovery of penicillin in 1928, and ends in the present day with world leaders discussing the need for decisive action.
Dr Meghan Perry, who is a clinician scientist from the University of Edinburgh, came up with the idea for the project.
Performing a musical is a truly interactive experience that will immerse participants in the history, politics, and science, of the ongoing fight against infection – and have a profound effect on their understanding of what’s at stake.
The need for public engagement has never been more urgent.
Lord Jim O’Neill’s recent ‘Review of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)’ concluded that if we don’t do something now, AMR could lead to:
- 10 million deaths per year by 2050 (it claims about 700,000 lives per year, currently)
- The cumulative loss of $100trillion (USD) of economic output
- Key medical procedures (such as gut surgery, caesarean sections, joint replacements, and treatments that depress the immune system, such as chemotherapy for cancer) becoming too dangerous to perform
- A devastating impact on low and middle-income countries.
The Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, Dr Catherine Calderwood, said:
AMR is a problem facing all of us – not just scientists and health professionals, and so I wholeheartedly welcome The Mould that Changed the World.
Engaging teachers and their pupils, specifically, could be the key to unlocking the difficulties we face in influencing attitudes and behaviours – and so I call on all schools to get involved.”
BSAC's Chief Exectuive Tracy Guise said:
We believe this musical has the power to make AMR relevant to an entirely new group of people – influencing rather than trying to change behaviours. The message, that antibiotics are starting to fail, needs to reach all sections of society quickly.
Pupils from Gullane Primary School, in East Lothian, will launch the musical at the National Museum of Scotland on 13June 2018.
Then children from Hitherfield Primary School in London, will perform the show at the Science Museum on 4 July 2018.
A professional production of the show will also run for three weeks in August at the 2018 Edinburgh Festival Fringe – the world’s largest arts festival.