Teaching, Adapting, Inspiring: My Journey Through a Public Health Workshop on Multiresistant Bacteria

by Jose Antonio Marin Rodriguez
General Public Health . Andalusian School of Public Health (EASP)

It was a crisp evening in Granada, Spain, under the banner of the European Researchers Night—an exciting science fest to showcase in a ludic way research importance to society. But this evening was particularly special for me, as it marked an opportunity to bring to life a project very close to my heart: “Proyecto Multirresistencias.” This initiative, led by masters students from the Escuela Andaluza de Salud Publica (EASP) and supported by the This is Public Health (TIPH) campaign, was designed to shed light on the critical public health issue of multiresistant bacteria. Our mission was simple yet ambitious: to educate over a hundred children about the significance of hand hygiene in combating these invisible threats. However, the impact and the lessons learned stretched far beyond what I had imagined.

The day of the workshop unfolded with a blend of excitement and the meticulous buzz of preparation. I found myself awake long before the usual rush of Granada’s morning came to life, the quiet of the early hours serving as a backdrop for the day’s final preparations. Surrounded by materials that would soon help convey the critical message of our workshop, my focus was razor-sharp. It was in these moments of preparation, amid stacks of informational pamphlets and hand hygiene supplies, that my partner and I stole a moment for a quick chat. We discussed our strategy for the evening, how we would engage the children, and make the workshop not just educational but memorable. “Let’s make sure everyone leaves with something more than just knowledge about hand hygiene,” my partner said, a statement that underscored our shared commitment to making a meaningful impact. With everything ready and our plan set, we headed to the venue, our anticipation for the event mingling with hopes of sparking a lasting awareness in the minds of our young audience.

As the children gathered around, their faces alight with curiosity, I began with the basics: why handwashing is important and how it can significantly reduce the spread of diseases. I explained the science behind multiresistant bacteria and why, more than ever, our hygiene practices play an important, an important role in safeguarding our health and that of those around us.

Alongside our session on hand hygiene, we partnered with a workshop dedicated to healthy eating for children. This pairing was no coincidence; it was a thoughtfully designed continuum of learning. After teaching the children the importance of properly washing their hands—a skill now more crucial than ever—we transitioned to the next phase of practical application. The kids, with newly cleaned hands, were given the opportunity to apply their learning directly. They embarked on a culinary adventure, preparing healthy meals by their own hands. This seamless blend of lessons not only reinforced the importance of hand hygiene in everyday activities but also empowered the children to take control of their health, starting with what they eat. Watching them eagerly wash their hands before diving into cooking was a vivid illustration of the workshop’s impact, bringing to life the interconnectedness of hygiene and nutrition in a way that was both educational and deeply rewarding.

But then, a moment that would redefine the entire workshop presented itself. Among the eager young faces was a boy, no more than four years old, who approached the handwashing station with a mix of excitement and hesitation. At the beginning I didn’t understand such attitude until the moment I realized something: He had only one hand. This instantly hit me, clearly it was a situation I hadn’t anticipated, but it was one that brought an immediate and profound shift in my approach.

This was a call not only for information but for inclusivity. It reinforced in my mind that I needed to ensure that every child, regardless of their abilities, felt empowered and capable of making a difference in their own health and the health of others. Therefore I did what med school taught me the most: I adapted. I tailored our handwashing demonstration to include methods that were accessible to him, showing that the principles of hygiene apply to everyone and can be practiced by everyone. The smile that lit up his face as he followed along, doing everything the other children did, was a moment of pure joy and accomplishment not just for him, but for all of us present.

This experience underscored a crucial lesson: public health education and efforts must be adaptable and inclusive. It reminded me that behind the statistics and the science, public health is about individuals—each with their own stories, challenges, and needs. As we wrapped up the workshop, I looked out at the sea of faces before me, each now equipped not just with the knowledge of how to effectively wash their hands, but with the understanding that they are a vital part of a larger community, a global effort to combat health challenges.

Reflecting on the event, I am struck by the power of education to bring about change, the importance of inclusivity in all our efforts, and the unexpected lessons that can emerge from the simplest of activities. The European Researchers Night in Granada was a showcase to the collective curiosity, compassion, and commitment that drive the field of public health forward. As I share this story, I hope it serves as a reminder of the impact we can have when we approach public health challenges with empathy, creativity, and a willingness to adapt to the needs of every individual.

Through the eyes of a child learning to wash his hand, I was reminded of the essence of our work in public health: to ensure no one is left behind. As we continue to face global health challenges, let’s carry forward the lessons of inclusivity, adaptability, and the profound impact of education. Together, we can make a difference—one hand at a time.