EU Health Prize for Journalists 2012 – stimulating high quality health journalism
At a special ceremony in Brussels on 29 January 2013 Petr Třešňák of the Czech Republic received from Commissioner Tonio Borg (right in the photo) the 2012 EU Health Prize for Journalists for his article “Adventures in ward 14”. The jury choose this as the winning article as they felt that, although uncomfortable to read, the article highlights the hidden problem of mental health, the situation in psychiatric hospitals and the vital role nurses can play in helping in the recovery of difficult cases.
First published in Respect Magazine in the Czech Republic, the article is about Ivan and his need for human contact. It explores the story of an impossible recovery – a recovery, in which nobody but Ivan's nurse believed in. It is incredibly detailed and gripping, reading almost like a novel highlighting issues of training the mental health workforce. The nurse who emerges as a hero in this story serves as an inspiration to us all.
Now in its fourth year, the EU Health Prize for Journalists, funded under the second EU Health Programme, continues to stimulate excellent health journalism and to raise awareness of current health issues.. In total, 394 journalists from all 27 EU countries participated in this year’s competition, submitting 557 eligible articles.
Journalists are invited to enter the competition with articles on the main theme of the prize, which is ‘Europe for patients’, including topics like cancer, rare diseases, prudent use of antibiotics, mental health, pharmaceuticals, patient safety, organ donation and transplantation, health workforce, flu and childhood vaccination and prudent antibiotic use.
Plus, for this 2012 edition, the topic active and healthy ageing has been integrated into the competition to mark the “European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations”.
Special prize for articles on smoking cessation
For the second time, a special prize has been awarded for articles on “smoking cessation”.
The winner of 2012 was Tobias Zick, for his article “Thick air”, first published in NEON Magazine, Germany. The article presents a comprehensive overview of tobacco use and smoking cessation issues in Germany, covering history, politics, law and philosophy. It shows that health policies can have a big impact.
The article goes on to highlight how mentality has evolved since tobacco was first introduced in the liberal market. In the beginning, smoking was meant to be for cool guys. Smoking is now considered a disgusting habit and non-smokers’ lobbies have managed to build up a mainstream mentality that rejects smoking. This has become an historical turning point and effects can already be seen in the decreasing numbers of ex-smokers returning to the habit and of young people starting smoking.
Second place of the Health Prize for Journalists was awarded to Ailbhe Jordan, from Ireland, for her article “Is screening a waste of cash?”, first published in The Medical Independent, Ireland. It presents an objective and timely look at the cost effectiveness of cancer screening programmes, which is particularly pertinent given the current economic context.
Finally, third place was awarded to Daniela Cipollon of Italy for her article “All those lies spread by private umbilical cord banks”, originally published in Oggi Scienza magazine, Italy. The article contributes to the debate on umbilical cord blood banks and the use of stem cells, which is especially valuable as this area is subject to different approaches and divergent views across the EU.