With more than 50 million cases reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) each year, dengue is now regarded as the world’s most important mosquito-borne viral disease. Moreover, given that 60% of these reports are from the Americas, predominantly Latin America, dengue infection is a significant and escalating public health problem in Latin America. Since its re-emergence in Latin America, dengue has spread dramatically throughout the region, and between 2001 and 2013, six countries accounted for more than 75% of all cases in the region: Venezuela, Brazil, Costa Rica, Colombia, Honduras and Mexico.
It is well recognized that the media plays an enormously influential role in public responses to health issues. Given the heavy burden of dengue fever in Brazil and the WHO’s recent approval of the first dengue vaccine, as part of the VOICE initiative, the Americas Health Foundation (AHF) partnered with dengue medical expert Dr. Joao Bosco Siqueira and media relations expert In Press/Porter Novelli (Brazil) to create and implement a Journalists Workshop program, with an initial focus on dengue in Brazil, to provide scientific knowledge to local print, broadcast and social media journalists to ensure they report accurately and responsibly on the impact of the disease and advances in treatment that allow the public to make informed decisions regarding protection against the disease.