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20 under-reported stories about global health we will support this year


20 under-reported stories about global health we will support this year

Picture of Stella Volkenand
Stella Volkenand — Marketing and Communications Manager
April 21, 2020

Introducing the latest grantees of our Global Health Journalism Grant Programme for Germany and France

In the past months, the development of the COVID-19 crisis has shone a spotlight on the importance of global health reporting. When done well, it is key to raising awareness about global health issues among the general public, and to informing influencers and decision-makers in government, civil society, industry, and science.

To increase the scope and depth of global health reporting, our team at the European Journalism Centre is proud to award 20 projects that will use these reporting grants to advance the coverage of international health, health policy and development issues in German and French media.

The COVID-19 crisis raises many reporting challenges for journalists as they adhere to stay-at-home guidelines and travel bans. To this end, we have extended the reporting deadline for these grants. We are working closely with all grantees to provide generous flexibility in terms of project scope and budgets. In some cases, we will work with grantees to help them produce alternative stories of comparable impact and quality.

By the time these programmes are finished, the EJC will have funded 85 journalism projects, distributing a total sum of one million euros. We are excited to see the latest projects come to life and congratulate all grantees and their teams.

These are the selected journalists and their stories:


Enemies around the operating table — Julia Amberger, Jonas Wresch

Burundi, one of the poorest countries of the world, is still struggling to emerge from a more than 12-year ethnic civil war but for Deo, a local doctor, his country is a nation of hope. He trains former enemies to become doctors and nurses. In his hospital, they stand side by side on the operating table where they work together to save lives.

The road to Universal Health-Care — Michele Bertelli, Felix Lill, Javier Sauras

Universal Health Coverage is a simple idea: Everyone should be able to access the health services they need, without suffering financial hardship. However, how can developing countries achieve such a goal?

On the Frontline: The daily struggle of female community health workers — Benjamin Breitegger, Juliane Nagiller

The power to improve global health is in the hands of community health workers, but the WHO warns of an immediate shortfall — what are these women’s daily challenges and what are sustainable solutions?

Kenneth’s Fight — Isabelle Buckow, Frauke Huber

The world talks about COVID-19, HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, but every year a virus kills more than a million people in silence: hepatitis — although it could be contained worldwide. Uganda is leading the way.

Leaving a mark: Is Global Health finally becoming a viable business model for the Western life sciences sector? — Julia Gross, Martin Laqua

Can German companies come up with a fair and viable business model for Global Health — and do they want to?

While women die: How a global anti-abortion movement worsens the dramatic abortion situation in Nigeria — Paul Hildebrandt, Birte Mensing

According to the WHO, Nigeria accounts for almost twenty percent of global maternal deaths, one reason being: unsafe abortions. The project follows local activists who persist and educate about reproductive health, provide contraception and post-abortion care and fight to end Nigeria’s abortion crisis.

Secret Rescue: Remote research on West African island helps to stop international diseases — Julia Jaroschewski

The remote conditions of some West African islands lead to specific health problems but research there helps to not only stop local but international diseases.

A World of Difference: The dangers of incomplete genome research — Nicole Macheroux-Denault, Tim Wege, Robin Denault

Current genetic research is dangerously incomplete or worse, mistaken. African, Asian or Hispanic populations are largely excluded from research for disease detection, prevention and treatment. The new push to create more diverse biobanks in Africa and Asia is overdue.

Nigeria’s cough syrup epidemic — Christian Putsch, Sam Olukoya, Andrew Esiebo

Fuelled by corruption and political ignorance, Nigeria is facing a hidden opioid-crisis — entire clinics have been set up for the battle against codeine-containing cough syrup.

Life without kidneys: How ready is Africa for the imminent NCD crisis? — Nyani Quarmyne, Laura Salm-Reifferscheidt

An exploration of the kind of innovative thinking that will be needed to address the WHO’s prediction that non-communicable diseases like diabetes and heart disease will be the leading cause of death in Africa by 2030.

The cancer gap — Astrid Viciano, Michele Catanzaro

New treatments against cancer often only reach industrial nations, developing countries, in contrast, are falling behind.

The children of Chiquimula — Malte Werner, José García Escobar, Victoria Castañeda Ríos, Daniel van Moll

In Guatemala, severe malnutrition perpetuates one of the highest rates of stunted children in the world — and climate change is making the situation even worse.


How blockchain will shake up the Afghan healthcare sector Manuel Alaver

In Afghanistan, the development of blockchain technology could stem fake drugs traffic and improve patient monitoring.

A better treatment for African people thanks to their DNA — Cécile Debarge

While Black Africans make up 17% of the world population, in scientific studies on genetics, they only account for 2% of the collected samples. This project looks at initiatives born in Africa in order to address this imbalance.

The poisoned children of Madagascar in mica mines Alexandra Combe, Simon Carraud,

Mica is a ubiquitous heat-resistant mineral used in our makeup, in planes or cars and many consumer electronics. But on the ground, in Madagascar, those who mine mica are mostly children who work in deadly conditions to scavenge for this precious mineral.

India’s killer snakes — Alexia Eychenne, Rozenn Le Saint

In India, snakebites — one of the most overlooked tropical diseases — kill more than anywhere else. But the country’s booming pharmaceutical industry could be an asset in the quest for antivenoms that are both reliable and affordable.

Inner Peace: The impact of trauma on conflict resolution — Melanie Gouby, Robin Hammond

South Sudan has been caught in recurring conflicts for decades, this project explores how trauma and mental health issues inflicted by the violence on a large part of the population impact in turn conflict resolution, and draw lessons for peace-building.

Fighting maternal mortality: Senegal struggles to build bridges between modern medicine and traditions — Amandine Plougoulm, Margot Brunet

To fight the scourge of maternal mortality, itinerant midwives go to remote areas, providing prenatal care, dealing with superstitions, making the link between modern medicine and traditions.

Street pharma — Philippe Pujol, Anne-Sophie Lebon
Deep dive into the maze of the pharmaceutical system in Togo, Ghana and Benin. Between resourcefulness, medication shortages, toxic drugs and innovative solutions.

Development of telemedicine in Madagascar to improve the daily life of sickle cell anaemia patients Rouguyata Sall, Morgan Fache

A story about a Franco-Malagasy NGO and a research laboratory of the Antananarivo Faculty of Medicine who developed an application to build a network of patient care and follow-up.

This initiative to enable journalists to produce in-depth reporting on global health is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Further reading

For background on the Global Health Journalism Grant Programmes, check out these posts:

  • 27 global health reporting projects that we can’t wait to see published
  • How journalists are overcoming the challenges of global health reporting
  • Keep an eye out for these ten global health stories in German media
  • Ten stories on global health that will impact media audiences in France
  • Some common mistakes when applying for a journalism grant — and how to avoid them
  • Cross-border journalism: The successful example of a German-Indian collaboration


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