In discussing a large grant his university has received and the center for health journalism that it will fund, South African professor Guy Berger (bio) has unleashed a scathing critique of African health journalism, and of the profession as a whole.
Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa. Photo by Pierre Nel via Flickr
Berger says South African health journalists don’t look hard enough for real news, don’t know enough about health care, and aren’t even that good at telling the stories that they do uncover.
It’s a dire picture, of course, but Berger’s overall message is one of hope. He implies that there’s a lot of great work to be done on health and the health care industry in in South Africa and the new center, he says, could help make health journalism the “healthiest trend-setter for the whole family of journalism.”
The “Discovery Centre for Health Journalism” will be funded by a $2 million grant from South African insurer Discovery Health. It will offer an honors program, six annual scholarships and an “annual symposium for working health journalists and stakeholders.” Berger also writes that it will “enjoy full academic freedom.”
The guide devotes sections to diseases/issues (HIV/AIDS, Malaria, Tuberculosis, Neglected Tropical Diseases, Maternal and Child Health, Water-Related Diseases, Food Insecurity), U.S. funding of global health efforts (Obama’s Global Health Initiative), relevant policy issues and policymaking. It also catalogues and explains related multinational and NGO efforts and lists news-making events.
As much as 50-60 per cent of anti-infective medicines tested in Asia and Africa have been found to have insufficient amounts of the active ingredients. Medicines with low levels of active ingredients pose a greater hazard than those with none, because substandard antibiotics and anti-malarial drugs can promote the development of drug resistant strains, or “super bugs” that can spread beyond the region.
The UN report calls for immediate action, including the naming, shaming and banning of companies producing the faux pills and stronger government regulatory efforts.
She visited a North Carolina couple running an organization coordinating care for thousands of AIDs orphans in Malawi, a North Carolina nonprofit’s involvement in access to reproductive health in Zambia, and UNC’s massive health care and research operation in Malawi.
In addition to nine radio stories, Hoban blogged extensively about her experiences and produced several videos and multimedia slideshows (photos and multimedia can be accessed through her blog).