UN Foundation Announces Press Fellowship to The Democratic Republic of The Congo on Polio Eradication and Disease Surveillance

Washington, D.C.

June 2, 2022


Megan Rabbitt

The United Nations Foundation today announced a press fellowship to The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) focused on polio eradication and disease surveillance to take place in mid-August 2022. As a polio outbreak country, the DRC is not only leveraging its immunization and disease surveillance infrastructure to tackle polio, but other disease outbreaks as well – including COVID-19, Ebola, and monkeypox.

Five selected journalists will gain firsthand experience on the frontlines of global efforts to eradicate polio, a preventable disease that continues to threaten the lives of children around the world. Traveling to Kinshasa and rural communities outside of the Capital, journalists may have the opportunity to engage with polio workers, community leaders, and civil society organizations working toward eradication at the local level. They may also visit an Emergency Operations Centre and vaccine warehouse, and have the chance to hear directly from polio and immunization experts with UNICEF and the World Health Organization.

Polio is a highly contagious disease that primarily affects children under the age of five and can cause paralysis. Due to comprehensive eradication efforts, including an effective vaccine, global detection and reporting networks, robust government investment, and dedicated health workers, polio cases have decreased dramatically worldwide – down more than 99% since 1988.

But polio remains a threat in a handful of countries – including the DRC. The COVID-19 pandemic led to severe setbacks for routine immunization, including polio, while conflict and weak health systems have further undermined progress. While the DRC has not had a case of wild polio since 2011, the country has continued to battle outbreaks of an equally dangerous, non-wild variant of the virus that can emerge in under-immunized communities.

The press fellowship comes at a particularly significant moment, just ahead of the August 25 anniversary of the WHO-AFRO region being certified wild polio-free in 2020. With new cases of wild poliovirus recorded in Malawi and Mozambique in recent months, health authorities across the continent are ramping up efforts to track and control current outbreaks to maintain this certification.

This press fellowship is intended for journalists who are interested in global health issues, including vaccines and disease prevention; global health security; foreign policy and the work of the United Nations. Journalists from all countries are welcome to apply. Working proficiency in English is required, though French-English translation will be available during the fellowship. Participating journalists will be expected to publish between 2 to 4 stories on the topics covered within six months of the fellowship’s conclusion.

Participants’ roundtrip airfare, visa fees, accommodations and local travel in DRC will be covered along with most meals. Other expenses incurred during the trip may be eligible for reimbursement. Funding for this press fellowship was made possible by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

To apply, click here. The application deadline is 11:59PM EST on June 20, 2022. Shortlisted candidates will be contacted for an interview. For more information, please contact Megan Rabbitt: mrabbitt@unfoundation.org


About the United Nations Foundation
The UN Foundation is an independent charitable organization created to work closely with the United Nations to address humanity’s greatest challenges, build initiatives across sectors to solve problems at scale, and drive global progress. Learn more at www.unfoundation.org