Students work prompts proclamation signing

Kylie Carlson

Bowling Green Mayor Bruce Wilkerson recognized WKU graduate students and their work on Tuesday at a signing of a proclamation declaring Nov. 14-20 as “Antibiotic Awareness Week in Bowling Green.”

The World Health Organization declared Nov. 14-20 World Antibiotic Awareness Week in 2015, according to its website. WHO states the purpose of the week is to consider how important antibiotics are and to prevent overuse which increases the likelihood of antibiotic resistant diseases.

During awareness week, WKU public health graduate students ran an information table at the Downing Student Union, sent newsletters to Bowling Green city schools, Warren County schools and to daycares. Additionally, a student spoke alongside a professor on the WKNY television station on Tuesday.

“They are really creating awareness through mass media, social media and plain old health education,” Marilyn Gardner, associate professor for public health, said.

Louisville graduate student Christian Finch, 28, said she and others specifically targeted day care centers for their project.

“We made flyers and newsletters to send out to the day cares,” Finch said. “That was what I mostly did, but we all worked together and had a little part in it.”

The state director for the Kentucky Department of Public Health contacted Gardner and several other Kentucky public health programs to start an initiative aimed at solving a growing problem for the state. Kentucky is the number one prescriber for antibiotics, according to a CDC Library report.

Gardner hoped this would be a great experience for the graduating students.

“These are Masters of Public Health students, and there are only four of them in the class since it is the last class they take before they graduate,” Gardner said adding the students were able to apply what they learned in the classroom for this project.

The students’ work began at the beginning of the semester with a stakeholder meeting and planning session, according to Gardner. The graduate students also partnered with Center for Disease Control and Prevention for their work.

Students worked with the CDC Get Smart program, which is an annual, one week observance to raise awareness of the threat of antibiotic resistance and the importance of appropriate antibiotic prescribing and use, according to the CDC website.

The proclamation was given on behalf of the entire city, according to Wilkerson, and he said he is thankful for the local awareness.

“I appreciate that you are bringing it to my attention, so now I can know how to protect myself and my family as well,” Wilkerson said before reading the proclamation.

Reporter Kylie Carlson can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @kentuckylie.