MANILA, PHILIPPINES — The USAID-supported #TBFreePH Journalist Grant on Tuberculosis Coverage, which trained journalists in producing evidence-based stories about the burden of tuberculosis in the Philippines, was recently awarded a Philippine Quill Award by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC).
The Quills are awarded to outstanding media programs in the Philippines in various categories such as communication management, research, training, and more. #TBFreePH Journalist Grant is one of 12 winners in the media relations category.
The #TBFreePH Journalist Grant on Tuberculosis Coverage was launched in July 2021 by a partnership between the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Tuberculosis Innovations and Health Systems Strengthening and the Philippine Department of Health (DOH).
The grant was created to help journalists produce timely and accurate media stories on tubercolosis, with over 90 journalists taking part in the grant’s media fellowship program facilitated by USAID contract partner, FHI 360, and its grantee, Evident Media. The program notably launched a series of online workshops that trained journalists on crucial aspects of tubercolosis reporting such as tonality, accuracy, and respect for patient privacy.
By the end of the workshops, journalists came away knowing how to produce stories on tuberculosis that were easy to understand, backed by concrete data, and spoke of patients in a dignified manner.
Of the 90 trainees, 60 journalists applied for a grant to produce in-depth stories. 18 successfully released stories on the impact of Covid-19 pandemic restrictions on tuberculosis.
Furthermore, a media monitoring report has found that the print, online, and broadcast stories produced about tuberculosis reached about 16 million people and earned free publicity values of an estimated P8 million.
By awarding the #TBFreePH Journalist Grant on Tuberculosis Coverage a Philippine Quill Award, the IABC recognizes the importance of USAID and DOH’s work to create awareness for tuberculosis. Additionally, the awarding helps in setting the bar for further tuberculosis media coverage and emphasizes the importance of further public health initiatives against tuberculosis. The #TBFreePH Journalist Grant on Tuberculosis Coverage was even celebrated for effectively engaging with various levels of the media, from local to international, during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The media fellowship grant program is part of #TBFreePH, an overarching health promotion and communication strategy focused on eliminating tuberculosis in the Philippines.
Dr. Beverly Lorraine Ho, director of the DOH Health Promotion Bureau, emphasized the importance of the media doing its part to promote public health. Speaking at the media fellowship training, Dr. Ho said “When you write about health, you not only help us communicate what Filipinos should do to be healthy. You also help us to tell them that being healthy is important.”
Ms. Michelle Lang-Alli, chief of USAID’s Office of Health, issued a call for journalists to continue the good work started by the media fellowship program. “Our call is to amplify the need to bounce back and get tuberculosis care and services back on track,” stated Lang-Alli. “This recognition from the Quill Awards is part of our mission to amplify the call to make the country TB-free.”
For more information, visit https://tbfree.ph/. This includes an online self-assessment tool to help with tuberculosis identification and treatment. It may also be used to check for suspected tuberculosis, and locate the nearest health facility.
The https://tbfree.ph/ is part of the Department of Health (DOH)’s local communication campaign, Para Healthy Lungs, KonsulTayo, which is supported by USAID’s TB Innovations and Health Systems Project (TB IHSS). It aims to raise tuberculosis as a public health priority in the country using social and conventional media methods.