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Digital Editor at the Longitude Prize, Shannon Harmon, takes us behind the scenes of her new documentary, 'Fighting Superbugs in India'.

Having been inspired by Dr Abdul Ghafur’s talk on antibiotic resistance in India at Science Museum Lates last November, I had a thought: ”How can we also engage people in a way that would make them understand the importance of antibiotics?”

I came up with the idea to make a short film highlighting the global problem of antibiotic resistance from India’s perspective. With a population of 1.3 billion, India only has 75,000 hospitals and superbugs are spreading fast through communities due to lack of sanitation and overuse of antibiotics in food. For the past three months we have been working to put together a film that can make an impact – something that an audience can really understand, take to heart, and perhaps inspire some public understanding of the problem.

What kind of test could win the longitude prize?
c. Longitude Prize

Through the film, we follow the intense story of a new-born, named Zoya, who is battling a multi-drug infection, and hear from her worried parents and doctor, Dr Sandeep Kamar. Meanwhile, Dr. Ghafur is something of a star in the film, explaining the problems clearly and passionately, in a way that only he can.

We also spoke to Indian teams competing to win the £8 million Longitude Prize by designing and engineering rapid tests for antibiotic resistance and for determining whether an infection is viral or bacterial (think of a rapid HIV test or pregnancy tests). We were honoured to include an interview with Dr Renu Swarup, Secretary at the Department of Biotechnology in the Government of India, who believes a test like this would positively impact India.

Obviously a film like this is not going to solve antibiotic resistance on the whole, but part of the challenge is educating people about the rising crisis and its global impact – and giving the spotlight to those who are fighting for us all…


The Longitude Prize is having a launch party for ‘Fighting Superbugs in India’ at Superbugs Lates. Be the first to see the film, showing on 25 April in the basement theatre.

Visit our free exhibition Superbugs: The Fight for Our Lives to see real bacteria and discover the innovative technologies being used to develop new antibiotics. Open until Spring 2019.