Bhekisisa aims to improve health reporting not only at the M&G but also at media houses across the continent.
The Mail & Guardian Health Journalism Centre was established in January 2013 and seeks to improve reporting on health and social issues in Africa. The centre is co-funded by the M&G and German Agency for International Cooperation, GIZ.
The influence that the news media wields in the health sector is substantial and it bears considerable responsibility. Sensationalist and misleading reporting on health and social issues can fuel fear and misconceptions and promote discrimination. Accurate and compelling stories, on the other hand, can break down prejudices and give people access to prevention, treatment and care information that can save their lives.
The centre’s staff aims to promote the principles of accurate and clear reporting while simultaneously humanising health issues through including relevant case studies in media coverage.
The centre provides and co-ordinates extensive online and print health coverage for the M&G. In addition to this, it offers three month health journalism fellowships to South African and Southern African Development Community journalists. During these fellowships reporters receive hands-on mentoring in the production of health stories and are offered the opportunity to publish their work in the M&G. Fellowship arrangements are flexible, and often include coverage for fellows’ home publications.
The centre also organises public discussion forums and trainings on health-related issues for South African journalists. For more information, please contact Mia Malan on [email protected]
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Meet the team
Mia Malan – Editor/Director
Mia Malan is the founding director of Bhekisisa, the Mail & Guardian’s health journalism centre. She also serves as the M&G’s health editor. Prior to this she was a health journalism lecturer in the journalism and media studies department at Rhodes University in Grahamstown.
Prior to joining the M&G, Malan was a Knight Health Journalism Fellow in South Africa during which she trained and mentored reporters from the country’s largest community television station, Soweto TV, to establish a weekly health programme, Phaphama.
Between 2003 and 2006 she established the first health journalism programme of the international media development organisation, Internews Network, in Kenya. In mid-2006 she moved to the Internews head office in Washington, DC, to become its senior health journalism advisor. During this period she helped to implement the training curricula she developed in Kenya in several other countries, including Nigeria, Ethiopia, India, Haiti and Thailand. Malan has also worked as a health journalism trainer in Iran, Namibia and the Czech Republic.
She has edited two HIV journalism media training manuals for Internews and has published on HIV and the media in the Brown Journal of World Affairs and the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs. She has also widely presented at international conferences on this subject and has published several book chapters and articles on health journalism.
Prior to this, Malan was the radio and television health correspondent of the South African Broadcasting Corporation. She’s won numerous awards for her work, including the Discovery Health Journalist of the Year for 2013, the MTN Public Broadcast Radio Current Affairs Journalist of the Year for 2013, the National Press Club’s 2013 awards for both print and radio features, the Sikuvile print journalism awards Commentary and Analysis Journalist of the Year in 2012, the CNN African Radio Journalist of the Year, the Henry J Kaiser Foundation’s Award for Excellence in Health Journalism and the US/SA Health Journalism Award for TV Reporting. She was named a Reuters Foundation Medical Journalism Fellow at Oxford University in 2001.
Mia has a master’s degree in science journalism (cum laude) from the University of Stellenbosch.
Follow Mia Malan on Twitter: @miamalan1971
Amy Green – Reporter
Amy Green is a health reporter at the Mail & Guardian’s health journalism centre, Bhekisisa.
After graduating with a bachelors of arts (cum laude) in 2010 at Rhodes University, in 2011 she received a scholarship to pursue an honours degree in health journalism.
Through Bhekisisa Green was quoted in health minister Aaron Motsoaledi’s budget vote speech in May 2013 for a story she wrote about the impact that pneumococcal disease and rotavirus vaccines have made in South Africa.
Prior to joining the M&G she investigated the abuse of the attention deficit disorder drug, Ritalin, among university students – an exposé that was published on the e-book website Mampoer Shorts.
In 2013 Green was one of 10 South Africans selected for a year-long investigative HIV reporting fellowship with the International Women’s Media Foundation.
At Bhekisisa she has covered a wide range of health-related issues including infectious diseases (HIV, tuberculosis, human papillomavirus [HPV] and cervical cancer); vaccines (HPV, rotavirus and pneumococcal disease); national health insurance (NHI); mental health; prescription drug abuse; health technology; gender-based violence; and rape-related issues.
Green has also written for publications such as the Grahamstown-based community newspaper Grocott’s Mail, The Springs Advertiser, Ezempilo Health Matters and Health Workers for Change.
Follow Amy Green on Twitter: @GreenAs_89
Ina Skosana – Reporter
Ina Skosana is a health reporter at the Mail & Guardian’s health journalism centre, Bhekisisa. She obtained a BA in journalism at the University of Pretoria in 2010 where she was the political reporter for the campus edition of the Afrikaans daily Beeld. Prior to joining the M&G, she was the health reporter at The New Age.
In 2012 Skosana was selected as one of 10 South African journalists to take up an International Women’s Health Foundation HIV journalism fellowship. During this period she produced several investigative HIV articles.
In 2013 she was a finalist for the Discovery/loveLife young health reporter, a category in the prestigious Discovery Health Journalist of the Year awards.
Skosana has assisted several journalism students with projects on health journalism, including students from Stellenbosch University, and has also worked extensively with Bhekisisa fellows. These fellows are journalists from other media houses who join the centre for three-month fellowships during which they expand their health journalism skills.
In 2013 Skosana participated in a United Nations Population Fund consultation on maternal mortality and general women’s health coverage in Uganda.
She’s reported extensively on maternal health, non-communicable diseases, teenage pregnancy, medical and traditional circumcision and has also investigated how the Health Professions Council of SA deals with patients’ complaints about doctors.
Follow Ina Skosana on Twitter: @inaskosana
Mercedes Sayagues – trainer
Mercedes Sayagues is employed as a trainer with Bhekisisa. She organises and runs media workshops aimed at improving reporting on medial male circumcision in South Africa. These workshops are hosted in provinces throughout the country to engage and inform journalists in those areas. She also mentors Bhekisisa fellows.
Prior to working on with Bhekisisa Mercedes had spent 22 years in Africa on a multitude of journalistic projects. Between 2010 and 2013, she was a Knight Health Fellow in Mozambique.
Her previous post was editor in chief of the Irin/PlusNews Portuguese service from 2005 until 2008. PlusNews is a United Nations web-based information service specialized on HIV and AIDS.
A Uruguayan-born journalist, Sayagues specializes on gender, sexuality, health, humanitarian issues and human rights. She has written studies on the AIDS policies in Senegal and Uganda, and on gold mining in Mali, for the South African Institute for International Affairs at Wits University.
An experienced media trainer, having facilitated more than 30 courses for journalists in Africa, from Angola and Ethiopia to the Seychelles, she has produced two manuals on reporting on HIV/AIDS, one in Portuguese for Unesco/NSJ and one in English for PlusNews.