Knight International Journalism Fellowships

Uganda: Setting a New Standard for Health Journalism in Africa

Knight International has made huge inroads in health coverage in Uganda. In 2.5 years, Knight Fellow Christopher Conte developed a vibrant community of journalists who now have the expertise to tackle tough health issues including the AIDS epidemic and health-care spending. As part of this effort, he revived a health-journalism association, turned it into a strong organization where he and other experts hold workshops, and handed over its operation to local journalists.

The association now produces an influential monthly newsletter that goes to 700 health-care professionals and journalists. He attracted new funding for the association from a wide range of sources including Johns Hopkins University and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. This included funds for a Ugandan journalism fellow who worked side by side with him and kept the momentum going after Conte left.

He also worked with two leading dailies, The Monitor and New Vision, and a nationwide network of radio journalists to improve health coverage. As we mentioned above, a story on Uganda’s shoddy hospitals prompted the government to apply for — and receive — a $130 million loan from the World Bank.

In July 2010, Conte hosted a meeting of nine Knight Fellows based in Sub-Saharan Africa to share best practices and work together to build a network of regional health journalists. The goals: to share resources and collaborate on stories to improve coverage of health and poverty-related issues throughout the region.

Our Stories


  • May 12008

    What difference can a newsletter make?

    What difference can a newsletter make? Quite a bit, judging from the launch of a modest new publication in Uganda. Designed to serve health journalists, the “Uganda Health Reporter” is making a bid to help spearhead diverse training programs and become a rallying point for professional development.

    “The first step is always the hardest.”

  • Mar 22008

    Of Demons and Public Health

    Editors Note: A group of journalists set out to investigate reports of demons in rural Uganda, but they ended up learning a few things about public health.

    As I sped down a narrow dirt road enveloped in a cloud of dust in Hoima District, Uganda, I must admit I wondered what in the world I was doing. I had begun a stint as a Knight health journalism fellow three weeks earlier, but here I was with a reporter and photographer from New Vision, Uganda’s largest newspaper, bouncing toward the isolated village of Kiziranfumbi about three hours west of Kampala.