Chris Bombardier (right), a winner of the 2018 Untold Global Health Stories contest, visiting a hospital on a trip to Nepal

The Winners of the 2018 Untold Global Heath Story Contest, Revealed!

CUGH, NPR’s Goats and Soda Blog, and Global Health NOW of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Global Health selected two winning entries from over 150 thought-provoking entries. It’s the fourth year of our annual competition, which seeks to identify and give a platform to neglected, underreported issues in global health.

For 2018, NPR’s Goats and Soda blog will report on the recruitment of children in Colombia for cocaine production, proposed by Athena Madan, and Global Health NOW will highlight hemophilia in developing countries, Chris Bombardier's idea.

A Tragic Disparity: Hemophilia in Developing Countries

Chris Bombardier, Program Facilitator Save One Life, of Denver, Colorado, USA, shared his idea to cover hemophilia in developing countries: “Hemophilia is a genetic bleeding disorder that's estimated to affect 400,000 people worldwide. In developed countries, most people have proper treatment and live long, healthy lives. But in the developing world, individuals live in constant pain and struggle to survive past their teenage years. That's because 75% of the medication available worldwide is consumed by just 25% of affected individuals. This tragic disparity is largely unknown to people outside the bleeding disorders community. Over the past 6 years I've served on the board of directors for Save One Life, an international non-profit that works to improve the lives of those with hemophilia in the developing world. I have hemophilia myself and on a recent trip to Kenya I witnessed the devastating effects hemophilia can have without proper treatment. I ask that you consider this story for Global Health Now to highlight a desperate need for our community.”


Athena Madan, winner of the 2018 Untold Global Health Stories contest, on a trip to Afghanistan

Athena Madan, a winner of the 2018 Untold Global Health Stories contest, pictured here on a trip to Afghanistan. Image Courtesy of Athena Madsen

Children Trafficked for Cocaine Production in Colombia

After a trip to Colombia, Madan, an assistant professor at Royal Roads University School of Humanitarian Studies, of Victoria, British Columbia Canada, couldn’t shake the haunting words of a man she met, “H,” who was used in cocaine production as a child. She wrote: “Children in Colombia recruited for cocaine production: Their size is ideal for mixing and filtering—through straws in their mouth—excess gas, cement, and caustic soda from the cocoa leaves. But they are also easy targets for Police. I submit the huge, unreported health issue that, upon release, they are stripped from healthcare entitlements—often despite having contracted debilitating health conditions.

"I met H. after his 8-year prison sentence. Now 25, he was recruited at the age of 9. His stomach hurt too much to eat anything more than shredded lettuce; drinking pop hurt his nose; tea hurt his throat. He was also worried for his family, who had been cut off from Cartel remittances and were now very poor.

"I have often thought of H.'s statement: ‘We are disposable bags of trash.’ I assume he has since died. He had no access to improve the quality of his life.”


Look for full stories on the two winners by the end of this year—and stay tuned for an announcement soon with honorable mention winners.


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Chris Bombardier (right), a winner of the 2018 Untold Global Health Stories contest, visiting a hospital on a trip to Nepal. Image courtesy of Chris Bombardier