EJN Supports Journalists and Media Outlets to Highlight Zoonotic Spillover Threats

A stack of meat sits outside with two people on top.
EJN Supports Journalists and Media Outlets to Highlight Zoonotic Spillover Threats

More than 70% of new, emerging, and re-emerging infectious diseases originate from animals, yet the risks presented by the spillover of zoonotic diseases from animals to humans remains largely under-reported. To improve public awareness of the importance of these impacts, and the country-level interventions necessary to prevent them, EJN has worked to ensure that the drivers of zoonotic diseases and spillover threats are covered more effectively by local media. 

As a member of the USAID-funded global consortium, Strategies to Prevent (STOP) Spillover, led by Tufts University since 2021, EJN has provided story grants, training and mentoring to journalists and media networks across seven countries of Asia and Africa where STOP Spillover is implemented, in collaboration with consortium partners.   

In 2022, EJN awarded story grants to 11 journalists from seven countries. 

  • In Cote d’lvoire, Dabo Emmanuel reported on the dangers of a deadly spillover of Avian Influenza. 
  • In Bangladesh, grantees reported on the risks of an avian Influenza outbreak due to poor bio-safety conditions at local live bird markets. Read this report by Shahenoor Urmi and this one from Rafiqul Islam.  
  • In Uganda, Ronald Musoke reported on a new outbreak of Ebola virus and how it tested the country’s healthcare infrastructure, while Joseph Elunya highlighted the risks of a Henipavirus spillover, noting that rural women pig farmers were particularly vulnerable. 
  • In Sierra Leone, Mabinty Magdalene Kamara focused on the continued threats posed by lassa fever, while Emma Black reported on a possible Ebola virus spillover due to illegal trade of bushmeat.    
  • In Liberia, Bondo Dounard Almamy wrote about a community program and a hunting ban to curb the threat of Ebola spillover, while Christian Zarweah produced a radio drama on lassa fever, which is transmitted by rats. 
  • In Vietnam, Vuong Thi Hao Linh explored the importance of mass vaccination in preventing an avian influenza outbreak in poultry farms.  
  • In Cambodia, Kong Sokom produced a video report on efforts to track avian influeza outbreaks and prevent future spillover events in Cambodia.  

In 2023, EJN awarded grants to three organizations – Voice in Bangladesh, Eburnie Today in Cote d’lvoire and Free Media Group in Sierra Leone – to develop media capacity to report on viral zoonotic diseases from avian influenza to lassa fever, and One Health approaches to combat them. Together, they trained 137 journalists in the three countries. Read about their project activities and outcomes achieved here.  

In addition to story grants and media grants, EJN also organized three webinars, connecting our global network of journalists with renowned One Health experts, who provided valuable information and resources for reporters to improve their understanding zoonotic diseases and report on these threats with a high level of factual accuracy. These webinars form part of this playlist, a compilation of One Health-focused webinars for journalists. 

“One Health, including zoonotic disease spillover, is currently one of the most pressing issues as we now live under constant threat of a new global health crisis like COVID-19. Yet, this is not very well-understood by journalists who perceive this subject as very complex and too technical to report on," said project manager, Stella Paul. "The STOP Spillover project was another opportunity for us to address this knowledge gap. Through direct mentorship and capacity-building trainings organized by our grantee-partners, we were able to provide journalists more sustained support to improve their understanding of One Health and their reporting skills.” 

Banner image: A pile of confiscated bushmeat in Liberia / Credit: KMTV Liberia.

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