Washington, D.C., August 17, 2011 (PAHO/WHO) - Three journalists whose reports examine the underlying causes of antimicrobial resistance in Latin America won the 2011 Latin American Health Journalism Awards, sponsored by the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), Red-Salud, the Communication Initiative, and the Imaginary Foundation.
This year's contest honored journalistic reports that effectively explain the threat of growing resistance to antibiotics and other antimicrobial drugs and that analyze the most important causes of this resistance, with a focus on Latin America. The contest was launched on World Health Day 2011 and was intended to support its call for greater awareness of and action to combat the problem of antimicrobial resistance.
The winners of the 2011 Latin American Health Journalism Awards are:
First prize: Pedro Lipcovich, of Argentina, for "Revenge of the Germs," published in Página/12. Lipcovich's article examines trends in antimicrobial resistance in Latin America, especially in Argentina. He examines causes, including sales of antibiotics without prescriptions and inappropriate use by consumers, and reports on outbreaks of multi-resistant microbes in health centers. The article also cites partial but encouraging results of efforts by Argentina's health system to prevent resistance to drugs for HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. The author is editor of the newspaper and serves as professor of journalism at the University of Jujuy.
Second prize: Nicolas Maldonado, of Argentina, for "Antibiotics: More than Half Prescribed are Unnecessary," published in El Día. The article reports what area doctors themselves believe are the factors that contribute to antimicrobial resistance in the province of Buenos Aires. The author is an investigative reporter who focuses on health issues, scientific activity, and the environment.
Third prize: Yetel Ricaño Noguera, of Cuba, for her story "Antimicrobial Resistance: Behaviors that Harm, Troubles that Condemn," published by Tiempo 21, the digital edition of Radio Victoria. Ricaño reports that in Cuba, free and accessible health services make it possible to request, start and stop treatment with antibiotics to an extent that creates undue reliance on these drugs. Ricaño writes online, manages social networks, and edits the English version of Tiempo 21.
The full texts of the articles and comments from the judges are available in Spanish at the Red-Salud site.
The Latin American Health Journalism Awards seek to encourage Latin American journalists to increase the quality and coverage of health issues in the media. This year, 22 articles from some of the region's major newspapers, magazines and websites qualified for the contest.
World Health Day 2011, celebrated on April 7, was dedicated to raising awareness of the problem of antimicrobial resistance, building commitment to finding common solutions, and promoting the implementation of policies and practices to prevent and contain antimicrobial resistance.