Inspirational reporting projects from our Global Health Security Call grantees
In 2021, the European Journalism Centre launched the Global Health Security Call to provide grant funding and research opportunities for freelance journalists covering the topic of global health security. In December, we awarded €100,000 of grants to 14 journalistic projects that will publish solutions-focused, impactful stories across France, Germany, the UK, Italy, Sweden and beyond. In the following weeks, we will put these stories in the spotlight.
This week we present you seven solutions-focused stories of hope, documenting the efforts of communities to overcome systemic problems of our healthcare systems. From the collective action of governments to community action at the grassroots level, the pandemic has given us reasons to be hopeful that someone, somewhere out there is working towards finding solutions to our glaring healthcare problems and showing others how it can be done.
In 2021, Cambodia recorded 596 cases of malaria, a decrease of almost 80% compared to 2020. How did they achieve this? Our grantees Alexandra Combe and Natali Heydel report on the crucial role of community health workers by highlighting their efforts in prevention and care of the disease. The success of the Cambodian model, with its community workers at its core, offers a solution that can be replicated elsewhere to combat this deadly disease.
In 2009, 96% of the world’s genetic data came from individuals of “European ancestry”, according to the scientific literature. But Thailand’s national genome sequencing programme is changing this lack of diversity in studies and putting Asian geneticists on the world map. Our grantee Carol Isoux talks about how this is a crucial step in order to acquire data on a specific population, define standards and remedies, and even prevent diseases.
India is not a signatory to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention or the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, meaning that refugees within India lack the legal status or official documentation needed to access healthcare. This has led to lack of medical infrastructure, and poor water, sanitation, and hygiene conditions in refugee settlements in India. While highlighting the deplorable conditions of these camps, our grantees Geetanjali Krishna and Sally Howard write about how Better Shelter, a Swedish social enterprise that develops and provides innovative housing solutions for displaced people, is partnering with local NGOs to make these camps more livable and safe.
In Burkina Faso, which has one of the highest mortality rates in the world, one in five infant deaths is due to malaria. Developing a vaccine is a complex process, and the lack of financial resources for research makes things even harder. But a breakthrough could be near. Our grantees Javier Sauras, Michele Bertelli and Felix Lill explore a promising vaccine and its trials in Burkina Faso and how that could change things for the country and the rest of the world.
The combination of deforestation and illegal mining is at the core of turning Sifontes into an epicentre of malaria in Venezuela. The WHO’s latest World Malaria Report reveals that 35% of cases reported in the whole continent originate in Venezuela. Our grantee Marielba Nunez reports on how NGOs like the International Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, and the Rotary Club are working with local authorities to implement preventive and palliative measures such as the distribution of medicines and insecticide-treated mosquito nets. However, sustained efforts need to be made as Malaria remains an emergency in Venezuela.
Liberia’s health system is currently undergoing a bold revolution, after being pushed to the brink by brutal civil wars between 1989 and 2003 that killed 250,000 people. By 2008, there were only 51 doctors in Liberia serving a population of 3.7 million, roughly one per 70,000 people. That year the government overhauled its health system, with the aim of encouraging the use of community-based health volunteers. Then, in 2014 a deadly Ebola outbreak hit Liberia, and this served as a catalyst for the national deployment of the workers. From 2016 they began to receive proper pay and training as their role was formalised. Our grantee Peter Yeung reports on how Liberia is using a groundbreaking, community-led approach to monitor for and respond to emerging diseases before they turn into major outbreaks — or even pandemics.
Cholera, dysentery and diarrhoea were common in the fishing villages along the northern shores of Lake Victoria in Uganda due to the polluted water from the lake. Our grantees Ylva Bowes and Jenny Ingemarsson report on a project that set up solar-powered water pumps in the villages and the resulting improvement of the health situation. Now, there are plans to expand the existing water system so that more people can connect, and also have pipes drawn to a tap at their own house.
The 2021 Global Health Security Call is delivering grant funding and facilitating research opportunities to support in-depth journalistic analysis on the topic of global health security. The EJC is awarding these grants at a time when freelancers face funding constraints to report on relevant in-depth stories, and mainstream media organisations in Europe can lack the resources to fund extensive field research or ‘embedded’ journalism on big topics, challenges and solutions.
The awarded journalists not only benefit from grant funding but also the opportunity to sustain working relationships with the opinion-forming media outlets that their stories will be published in. Furthermore, the Call helps the journalists broker constructive relationships with relevant external stakeholders and experts, and engage the public, key stakeholders and decision-makers about the topics being reported on.
The Call is being delivered by the EJC and is supported by a total of €100,000 of grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Since 2013, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has supported the EJC to award €6.5m to more than 200 journalism projects reporting on global challenges.
The European Journalism Centre (EJC) is an international non-profit headquartered in the Netherlands, working to support, strengthen and develop journalism.
Our mission is to strengthen the resilience of European journalism and progressive media by connecting journalists and media to new ideas, nurturing communities, making available a wide range of unique experiences, providing grants and skills development, and producing resources and training affordable or for free. Our aim is that every journalist and news organisation shall benefit from an EJC programme or initiative.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is a nonprofit fighting poverty, disease, and inequity around the world. Its mission is to create a world where every person has the opportunity to live a healthy, productive life. It partners with entrepreneurs, companies, and other organisations to create incentives that harness the power of private enterprise to create change for those who need it most.