Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is an international, independent, medical humanitarian organisation that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural and man-made disasters and exclusion from healthcare in more than 65 countries.
MSF in Southern Africa
Over the past decades, MSF has and continues to run projects in Southern African countries, including Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Swaziland and South Africa. These projects have focused primarily on HIV/TB, healthcare for mobile and migrant populations, and treating the consequences of sexual and gender-based violence.
In 1999, in the wake of MSF being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, MSF launched the Access Campaign. Its purpose has been to push for access to, and the development of life-saving and life-prolonging medicines, diagnostic tests and vaccines for patients in MSF programmes and beyond.
About the fellowship
Following MSF India’s successful launch a fellowship programme for media in India focussing access to medicines, MSF India and MSF Southern Africa are now partners in implementing an international media fellowship during 2018.
For the first time, MSF Southern Africa and MSF India are inviting applications for the “MSF Media Fellowship”. The fellowship will fully fund reporting assignments for one South African journalist who can demonstrate the potential for incisive and original reporting.
The MSF Media Fellowship aims at building or strengthening rapport with the media stakeholders in South Africa and to promote a greater practical understanding of issues surrounding access to essential medicines related to ongoing reforms in intellectual property legislation. It also provides journalists access to MSF field projects locally and internationally as well as research and civil society partners for a deeper understanding of the issues.
The fellowship programme provides support for a fellow to research and visit MSF projects in India for three weeks and spend another week upon return to South Africa to produce a minimum of three features in their medium of publication or transmission.
The fellowship programme will cover international and local travel costs, accommodation, interpreters, daily support expenses as well as production costs. The funds will either be disbursed in weekly instalments or once off. It is mandatory to produce and submit actual bills and invoices for all the expenditure incurred.
Since 1999 MSF Access Campaign – an arm of MSF set up to push for access to, and the development of life-saving and life-prolonging medicines, diagnostic tests and vaccines for patients in MSF programmes and beyond.
Two major challenges to access to healthcare for patients in South Africa and other developing countries are:
- the high cost of medicines and,
- the absence of appropriate and effective treatments for many diseases including HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Hepatitis C, pneumonia, cancer and neglected diseases (including Chagas disease, sleeping sickness and kala-azar).
In South Africa, there are serious barriers to accessing many cancer treatments at affordable prices, for example, as a result of the country’s current patent laws, this is only one disease among many where patients face significant difficulties.
People across the country suffering from diseases ranging from HIV and TB to epilepsy, to mental illness are all affected by similar access problems due to high prices resulting from patent barriers that block more affordable generic medicines from the market.
To correct this, the government of South Africa is making an effort to fix the country’s patent laws and ensure everyone has access to the medicines they need.
The process of drafting a new IP policy has dragged for over a decade, and a progressive draft intellectual property policy was finally released on August 8, 2017.
The draft policy identifies public health as a priority and indicates that the Department of Trade and Industry (dti), together with key government departments, intends to address access to medicines, vaccines and diagnostics within the context of South Africa’s approach to international IP cooperation.
South Africa is among several nations looking to India as “the pharmacy of the developing world”, as India plays a vital role in improving access to affordable generic medicines globally.
Safeguarding and strengthening policies that protect India’s production and export of generic medicines is crucial in ensuring that developing countries maintain access to affordable generic medicines.
Thanks to competition stemming from Indian generic drug manufacturers, the price of medicines to treat diseases such as HIV, TB, and cancer have decreased by more than 90 percent.
India is the source of 80% of the HIV medicines used in MSF projects. Without these life-saving, affordable medicines, it would have been impossible to scale up treatment to the levels seen today.
India’s peers in the BRICS formation, particularly Brazil and South Africa, are now looking to its progressive patent laws for inspiration as they try to reform their own laws to limit abuses of the patent system and improve access to essential medicines.
With this backdrop, the MSF International Media Fellows are expected to explore the intersection of the Indian generic drug industry and the world, specifically South Africa, and the legal battles on intellectual property waged between multinational pharmaceutical companies and middle-income countries seeking to protect access to affordable medicines for their people.
Reportage by MSF International Media Fellows should investigate links between Intellectual Property laws, trade agreements, patents and how these affect patients and policies in India and South Africa.
The work of the MSF International Media Fellows should aim to increase the public consciousness and engagement on these critical issues.
- Professional journalists, including freelancers, working in print, television or online media in South Africa.
- Applicants must demonstrate a minimum of three to four years of professional experience of covering health, business, the pharmaceutical industry, intellectual property related issues, public policy and/or related issues.
- Once selected, the fellows will have to attend an orientation/briefing at MSF India Southern Africa to understand and familiarise themselves with the requirements of this fellowship.
- Print/Online: Minimum of 3 articles (500 words each) or 1 long-form feature (2,000 words) on the topic published in their outlet within 60 days of completing the Fellowship.
- Multimedia: 2 Articles (500 words each) accompanied by multimedia content like videos, data visualizations, photo stories or illustrations
- Television: 1 feature-length documentary (20-30 Min) or 3 television news stories
- The fellows are expected to acknowledge the support of MSF Media fellowship in their reporting in the interests of transparency.
- All copyright for news stories will remain with the publications, however, MSF reserves the right to share and publish all articles on relevant websites and blogs.
- After the completing the Fellowship programme, fellows are expected to speak about their experience to the larger MSF Southern Africa office and other interested people of MSF.
What MSF will offer:
- A fellowship to the total value of Euro 3,500
- The fellowship will cover round-trip air tickets to India, local travel while in India, accommodation, per diem and other administrative issues
- To provide all the necessary support i.e. visa processing, payment for required vaccinations among other administrative issues
- Briefings from MSF experts on (medical) humanitarian principles and our work
- Briefings from other MSF experts—based on the topic chosen.
- Access to field projects, relevant networks of experts and patient groups? and facilitation of the journalist for a pre-decided time frame
Interested journalists should send the following the documents with their application
- 2-page Curriculum Vitae along with a cover letter
- Copies of the previous reporting on health or IP issues
- Crucially, applicants have to deliver a strong proposal demonstrating some initial research and story angles outlining their possible focus area while in India and how it is linked to the in South Africa (700-word proposal)
- Letter of recommendation from the professional referee (other than the editor) detailing the applicant’s journalistic abilities and aptitude for the fellowship.
- Applicants must provide a ‘letter of support’ from the editor of their current employer/editor assuring Fellows time/leave for 4 weeks and agreeing to publish the articles written by the Fellows in their publication. Freelancers must also provide a supporting letter from the editor of a publication agreeing to use the articles
- Applicants must have at least a national diploma or degree in Journalism, media or communications
- Applicants should have a valid passport
• All applications will be evaluated by MSF as well as an external jury.
• MSF reserves the right to not award any fellowships if applications do not meet a basic minimum standard.
• All decisions taken by MSF will be final
APPLICATION SUBMISSION AND DEADLINE
Please submit your cover note, proposals and scan the documents to the attention of Angela Makamure
Email: DL-JNB-Joburg-Press@joburg.msf.org not later than 16 May 2018