As the Neglected Tropical Disease NGO Network (NNN) Annual Meeting kicks off today in Addis Ababa, the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (RSTMH) and NNN are pleased to announce the winners of their photo competition on the theme of neglected tropical diseased, called Beat NTDs.
NTDs are treatable and preventable diseases, including dengue, leprosy and trachoma, that affect more than one billion people living in the world’s most impoverished, marginalised and remote communities.
RSTMH and NNN launched the photo contest in May to raise awareness of the devastating impact NTDs can have on people’s lives, but also the positive stories of those on the ground delivering services including treatment and care, working in communities, researching treatments and lobbying governments in their collective efforts to achieve a world free of NTDs.
Tanya Wood, Chair of the NNN, says: "There is a saying that a picture tells a thousand words. When you look at the diverse range of images we received this year, it was clear that our community has very powerful stories to tell not only about the devastating impact of these diseases on people's everyday lives, but also about innovation, resilience and human connection in the fight against NTDs."
Tamar Ghosh, CEO of RSTMH, says: “I’m delighted to have collaborated with NNN on this initiative. The photo contest has really brought to light all the incredible work being done around the world to combat NTDs. I hope everyone enjoys the quality of the images, as well as gains knowledge and appreciation of how NTDs are impacting people’s lives and what is being done to combat this.”
The top ten entries, including two joint winners, will be announced today and exhibited at the NNN conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia until 26 September.
The first winner is Zikmund Bartonίček, whose image “Shedding” depicts exposing snails to sunlight to provoke trematode – and especially schistosome – cercariae shedding in Barombi Kotto, Cameroon.
On winning, Zikmund, says:
“It is important to raise awareness of NTDs, whether it is the disease itself, work in the field, lab or in hospitals – and photography is one of those methods, that can sometimes be captivating both to the public and the experts, making it an ideal way to tell a story, or to raise an interest.
“I took this picture when I was working on my masters' project at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) in southwest Cameroon. It can be quite tricky to assess the presence of schistosomiasis in the environment, and usually, snails like the ones in the photo are checked for shedding of cercariae of the neglected, yet – in the long term – deadly schistosomiasis.
“As part of my research, I was trying to detect schistosomiasis in the lake using environmental DNA detection and assessing how susceptible the intermediate freshwater snails are to lower doses of molluscicides so that the effect on non-target species are not as devastating and therefore more acceptable by local communities. Ultimately these efforts should allow us to detect and tackle schistosomiasis in the environment more efficiently as part of the integrated approach.”
The second winning image of an Orbis-trained eye care worker comforting a young girl with trachoma in Gamo Gofa, Ethiopia was taken byGeoff Oliver Bugbee.
He says:“Working as a socially-concerned photographer for the last 20 years, I couldn't imagine a more compelling opportunity than to be entrusted with my eyes and cameras to further the work of Orbis International, an organisation dedicated to the prevention of avoidable blindness.
“I find it tremendously rewarding to know that the images that I shoot help to broaden awareness and relate real human stories that convey hope in the milieu of a large-scale global health effort.
“Orbis is a one of a kind convergence of eye health and aviation. I'm grateful to be a part of their mission, and I'm truly honoured to accept this award.”
The RSTMH and NNN photo competition was open to anyone working in the field of tropical medicine and global health across the globe. The winners split the cash prize of £500 and both have the chance to be on the cover of RSTMH’s journal, International Health.
The entries were assessed by a panel of judges, including Simon Bush, Director of neglected tropical diseases at Sightsavers.
Simon says: “I was thoroughly impressed with the range of photos, their unique content and composition. They truly highlight the breadth of work going on to fight NTDs around the world.”