Knight International Journalism Fellowships

Zambia: Putting Health News in the Headlines

Knight International is working to make health reporting a regular beat at one of Zambia's leading newspapers. Knight Fellow Antigone Barton helped to establish the first health desk at the Zambia Daily Mail, one of the country's most influential newspapers. Under her coaching and mentoring, the staff markedly increased the quality and quantity of health stories on topics such as HIV/AIDS, drug-resistant tuberculosis, cholera and malaria. Barton’s fellowship ended in February 2010. Knight Fellow Zarina Geloo began work the same month at the Times of Zambia.


-Helped reporters and editors produce a World AIDS Day package that included an examination of HIV-positive Zambian prisoners who return to their communities and spread the disease.

-Led a team of reporters in producing a ground-breaking series on cancer risks and links to AIDS, and on the challenges of cancer treatment in Zambia.

-Created a monthly health newsletter as a resource to assist journalists covering health-related stories.

-Helped the new health desk report on disease prevention.

-Led a team of reporters and editors in producing an award-winning series on malaria, the nation’s deadliest disease. Zambia’s health minister credited the newspaper’s coverage with helping to reduce malaria infections.

-Helped organize an association of journalists and health experts to serve as a resource for the media community and forum for discussing health threats and policies.


  • Apr 162009

    The hunt for vanishing news

    When Martin is on safari the only news he gets is delivered in paw prints, dung droppings and from vultures buzzing overhead that tell him what animals passed through the night before, what animals may still be lurking, and which lost battles with their predators.

    “That is my newspaper when I am in the bush,” he told us. He had been sharing that news with us for the last two days in South Luangwa Park where he was our guide. Over lunch he also gave us his take on politics, corruption and economy in Zambia , which newspaper is the most entertaining, which is the most credible.

  • Mar 312009

    Foreign Exchange Brings Impressions of Home

    I would have looked up Ndubi Mvula, the Zambia Daily Mail's Livingstone bureau chief, in any case. His health reporting had been mentioned to me several times and Livingstone has the highest rate of HIV in the country. The stories there are important, and I looked forward to working with him to tell them in depth. And it's nice to know someone in a nice place. Adding to the fun, though, was that he had just come from my place -- all over the place, covering the most critical American presidential election in either of our memories.

  • Mar 212009

    Dr. Vongo's Powerpoint Tells the Other Side of the Health Care Story Here

    Dr. Vongo clearly gets a kick out thinking people don't expect him to use a power point presentation to tell his story. He also enjoys pointing out that in a recent conference on leadership in the Zambia AIDS epidemic, he was one of the only -- if not the only -- speaker to stay within the 15-minute time limit.

    "People think of us as the bad news," he says with a chuckle.

    By "us" he means traditional healers -- the herbalists, diviners, spiritual counselors and birth attendants that 80 percent of people seeking health care turn to first in Zambia.

  • Mar 182009

    The Elephant in the Room Illustrates the Story of an Epidemic

    LUSAKA, ZAMBIA — "If you live on a small farm, as I do, your last prayer at night is that an elephant won't find your maize field," Dr. Mannasseh Phiri told an audience of African health journalists today. "It will wipe it out."

    Phiri is a quietly compelling speaker and so he had the audience's attention as he went on to describe the feeding habits of elephants.

    With small snouts and small mouths, they can only take in a little at a time, so they eat all day long. And as they search for food, they walk quietly; they don't run.

  • Mar 152009

    Stepping into the middle of a long story

    LUSAKA, ZAMBIA — Who is leading the fight against AIDS in Zambia?

    That was the question that brought about 100 people together at the Intercontinental Hotel here today. And the answer was -- not nearly enough of the people who should be. That was the question that brought about 100 people together at the Intercontinental Hotel here today. And the answer was -- not nearly enough of the people who should be.

    Father Michael Kelly, an Irish-born Jesuit priest and now a Zambian and AIDS expert was there.