Photo Competition

Global Challenges in Health: Your stories from around the world

2020 was a devastating year for health worldwide. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the stark inequalities in healthcare, and health systems are still reeling from the ongoing impact of the coronavirus.

This year, the global health community is also dealing with the negative repercussions on all other aspects of health caused by the pandemic.

In an article from January, the WHO highlights the ten global health issues to track in 2021. These were:

  • Build global solidarity for worldwide health security
  • Speed up access to COVID-19 tests, medicines and vaccines
  • Advance health for all
  • Tackle health inequities
  • Provide global leadership on science and data
  • Revitalise efforts to tackle communicable diseases
  • Combat drug resistance
  • Prevent and treat NCDs and mental health conditions
  • Build back better
  • Act in solidarity

The Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (RSTMH) and ECTMIH Global Challenges in Health (#globalchallenges) photo competition was open to all, but most specifically to those working in the fields of tropical medicine and global health.

The top ten nominees are shown below.

The overall winner will win a cash prize of 200 Euros and the potential to be on the cover of RSTMH’s journal, International Health.

The images were judged by certain criteria, including:  

  • Technique/lighting
  • Composition
  • Subject/story
  • Originality

The jury also looked for images that were people-focused, positive and empowering, that portrayed their subjects in a dignified, non-exploitative way, and that were solutions-focused.

Read all about the competition.

Grand Prize Winner

Nuraine’s father is a doctor. In the hospital, he is a doctor whose works center on protecting and caring for his patients.

But at home he has another title: dad.

When he comes home after long hours combating COVID-19, He has to isolate himself to keep his family safe.

After 14 long days when Nuraine’s father has come home, her mother makes a hug curtain by putting a clear plastic curtain between them. At last Nuraine welcomes her father with a bunch of flowers and a warm comforting hug.



The barriers might separate them, but they are united by the ideal they have chosen to serve - citizens safety. She is a physician. He is a soldier. Husband and wife. Each is fighting the pandemic on a different "front".

Chisinau, Republic of Moldova.


Rani lives with her grandma and family in the border of Timor and Indonesia. Her parents had left the countryside to work in urban Jakarta leaving the children alone with their old grandma. Poor living conditions contribute to the cause of endemic malaria, which is more frequently found in the isolated rural areas in Asia Pacific.

One approach has been to provide 'Long Lasting Insecticide-treated Bed Nets' act as a barrier against the bites of a range of species of malaria-carrying mosquitoes. This simple preventative measure can be a very cost effective public health measure.




Yaws - Mass testing and treatment in a forest settlement (near Mbalam) of the Baka, a pygmy people in Cameroon.


Workers carry piles of bricks on their head at a brick factory in Narayanganj, Bangladesh.

Brick kilns, many of which use low-grade coal, emit toxic fumes containing large amounts of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide and oxides of sulphur which are extremely harmful to the eyes, lungs and throat.

Moreover, long working hours under the scorching sun in the brickfields, massive accumulation of dust, the risk of falling from the trucks and piles of bricks, and carrying excessive loads pose serious health hazards for the workers.



People are getting vaccinated for Covid in a special health mobile unit arranged by Indian Railway outside of Kolkata, India.

The special train, named 'Arogya,' makes stops at important junctions following a scheduled calendar.

So far India has vaccinated around 50 Crore people in one of the largest vaccination drives of the world.




Pavel Biswas, a red volunteer from DYFI, is seen sanitising a Covid positive family's home in a suburban area of Kolkata, India.

As India faces the deadliest second wave, many youths have come out to help in fighting the battle.


Balkisu, a 40-year-old noma survivor from Bauchi State is pictured during a screening session at Sokoto Noma Hospital, Nigeria.

She says she got noma at age 4, and previously had traditional medicine done on her wound. She only recently heard about the possibility to get surgery in Sokoto and was selected that day for the first phase of her nose reconstruction.

Noma is a necrotizing disease starting in the mouth and quickly leading to disfigurement and stigmatization. Up to 90% of people with noma die in the first weeks of the infection even if the disease is preventable and treatable.


The baby receiving phototherapy is one of twins. Her sister was transferred to a higher tertiary hospital due to the lack of beds in the small nursery. Their mother had to remain with this child. On this day their separated sister and daughter was to return. Good spirits filled mum and the child was recovering well on the lights. The lights seemed to represent a multi-faceted hope.

Can this hope extend into the need for better capacitated health systems for maternal and fetal well-being in Sub-Saharan Africa?

Taken at Christ the King District Hospital in rural Ixopo South Africa. 



A grandmother tenderly hugs her proud granddaughter, who suffers from Onchocerciasis-associated epilepsy.

She has witnessed her grandchild's health improving greatly over a period of a few months, thanks to treatment and assistance provided by the Nodding Syndrome Alliance in Maridi, South Sudan.

The grandmother's gaze and gesture express all her inner joy as a seizure-free future for her family gradually becomes a reality.