I was sitting in my office last week working on a few things when I received a phone call from Ken Greenberg, a Campaign Manager at BD, a company that makes medical devices. I don’t know Ken but he was very friendly on the phone and asked how my day was going. I said it was going fine. “Well, it is about to get a whole lot better”, he heartily replied and proceeded to tell me that I had won the “Hope For A Healthy World” photo competition, placing first in the Best Global Health Picture Story category for a story I had completed late last year called “Polio’s Line In the Sand.”
We haven’t had a case of naturally occurring polio in the US since 1979 and few Americans realize it still exists, let alone continues to cripple children in developing countries like Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Congo and Nigeria.
In October, Betsy Pisik, a 2010 International Reporting Project Fellow, and I ventured to northern Nigeria to report on vaccination efforts in an area that has been hard-hit by the virus. Religious zealotry and misinformation have coerced villagers in the predominantly Muslim region into refusing polio vaccinations and led to the reemergence of polio only a few years after it nearly joined smallpox on the CDC’s list of eradicated diseases.
The competition was sponsored by a medical technology company called BD that according to their website: “develops, manufactures and sells medical devices, instrument systems and reagents. The company is dedicated to improving people’s health throughout the world. The power of a photograph cannot be overstated, and BD relies on imagery to tell stories about a wide range of diseases in which its people, products and initiatives play a significant role.”
Judges for the competition included MaryAnne Golon, Consulting Director of Photography & Multimedia at AARP, and former Director of Photography, TIME magazine, Holly Hughes, Editor, PDN and Scott Thode, Editor, VII The Magazine.