Public communications award recognizes malaria series

Four correspondents for Public Radio International's "The World," a 1-hour radio program devoted to international news and culture, have been named recipients of the 2006 ASM Public Communications Award. Their 4-part series, "The Forgotten Plague: Malaria," examined malaria's grip on the world's poorest regions and aired October 24-27, 2005.

The four are David Baron, Clark Boyd, Katy Clark, and Orlando de Guzman. The Award, consisting of a $2500 cash prize and plaque, will be presented during the General Meeting of the ASM in Orlando in May 2006. Series audio and scripts are available online at www.theworld.org.

The series explains how malaria is transmitted, how it was defeated in the United States, and how the disease is being battled in Asia and Africa. Our judges called the series "a great team effort on a neglected subject, with excellent U.S. tie-in and human interest," and a "memorable multipart story that pulls together different aspects of the malaria issue."

Clark, who covers the U.S. military; Iran; domestic preparedness; international education; and global health issues for The World, told how draining swamps, spraying DDT, and improving household hygiene defeated malaria in the United States by the middle of the 20th century.

Baron, who oversees The World's coverage of public health and development, took listeners to West Africa, where with the help of an American oil company, authorities in Equatorial Guinea have begun a program to eradicate the endemic disease. Baron won the first ASM Public Communications Award, in 1996, for an NPR story on microbial diversity.

de Guzman, The World's Southeast Asia Correspondent, covers the region from Bangkok. He examined a growing health problem for malaria victims in Southeast Asia, the sale of counterfeit antimalarial drugs. Such sales are leaving sick people in the region untreated and may contribute to the development of drug resistance by the malaria parasite.

Boyd, who covers technology and science stories for The World, concluded the series with a report on new high-tech tools to fight malaria, including a portable malaria test that could help diagnose the disease in remote parts of the world.

Judges for the award were author and New York Times contributor Robin Marantz Henig; Philip Yam, news editor for Scientific American; and Nancy Shute, senior writer, U.S. News and World Report.

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PRI's THE WORLD is a co-production of the BBC World Service, Public Radio International and WGBH Boston, broadcast by over 200 public radio stations nationwide with over two million listeners.

The American Society for Microbiology is the largest single life science society, composed of over 42,000 scientists and health professionals. ASM's mission is to advance the microbiological sciences as a vehicle for understanding life processes and to apply and communicate this knowledge for the improvement of health and environmental and economic well-being worldwide.


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