Skip to main content

Professor Sanjib Bhakta wins prestigious Microbiology Society 2020 Outreach Prize

The prize was awarded for the charity project ‘Joi Hok’, which uses educational intervention as a means of spreading awareness of tuberculosis.

Professor Sanjib Bhakta, Professor of Molecular Microbiology and Biochemistry, and ‘Joi Hok!’ founder Sreyashi Basu have been awarded the 2020 Microbiology Outreach Prize by the Microbiology Society, for effectively bridging the gap between laboratory science and public health research with their project ‘Joi Hok!’, a community tuberculosis (TB) awareness programme. 

The programme’s aim is to alter the perception of TB among the local community in Kolkata, India, through a network of local artists, musicians and health professionals. Traditional art forms and music are used to communicate knowledge of TB, educating young people from low socioeconomic backgrounds about the disease through routine workshops which take place in semi urban and rural schools. 

Professor Sanjib Bhakta commented: “TB has progressively worsened with the advent of antibiotic resistance, hence there is urgent need to review and deal with the disease not only as a medical concern or even public health problem alone, but also as a social problem. 

“The project is using creative tools like local folk-art and music to encourage children to engage, learn and discuss the issue of antibiotic resistance in the context of TB. We have already seen the subsequent transfer of knowledge from children to household members has led to an increased awareness of the disease and has encouraged more patients to adhere to anti-TB medication.”

Professor Mark Harris, General Secretary of the Microbiology Society, said: “The Microbiology Society Prizes panel felt that the ‘Joi Hok!’ tuberculosis awareness programme demonstrated an inventive and exciting approach to informing the public about an important disease.  The novelty of the programme was its innovative use of traditional art and music to raise awareness of tuberculosis in rural India, with potential to positively influence treatment and control in a country that has the highest global incidence of this devastating infection - a worthy winner of the Microbiology Society Outreach Prize 2020.” 

The Microbiology Society is a membership charity for scientists interested in microbes, their effects and their practical uses, and is one of the largest microbiology societies in Europe. The Microbiology Outreach Prize is awarded for an outstanding outreach initiative, that shows innovation, originality and a sustained impact over time.

The ‘Joi Hok!’ project was also announced as the winner of the category ‘Community Engagement’ in the Birkbeck Public Engagement Awards earlier this year.

Further Information

More news about: