Knight Fellow Launches Weekly Health TV Show in South Africa’s Largest Township

Mar 302011

Under the leadership of Knight Fellow Mia Malan, Soweto TV, South Africa’s largest community TV station, has launched a hard-hitting, weekly show on the country’s most critical health issues. The station, located in the historic township that was once home to Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, serves a community of 1.2 million poor and working-class viewers.

Beginning April 4, the program called Phaphama (Zulu for “Wake Up”) will air on Mondays at 9 p.m., a primetime slot. The 30-minute shows are filmed at Soweto health clinics and also feature studio discussions with doctors and other experts. Of the first eight episodes, three focus on HIV and AIDS. Others explore blindness, child rape and male circumcision.

The host of the program Phumelele Dlamini herself is HIV positive. “We are bringing people information that can save their lives, that can make their lives better,” said Dlamini, who was diagnosed 16 years ago. “The people of Soweto will find out where to get treatment, and what kind of treatment is available. We are empowering them to make their own health-care decisions.”

Malan helped South African journalists to develop the interviewing, editing and production skills needed to create these reports for Soweto TV.

These stories are “focused on Soweto in particular, where a large number of people are infected with HIV,” said Malan. “We also have the largest hospital in the Southern hemisphere, with ground-breaking research being conducted all around us. As the voice of the community, Soweto TV had an opportunity to bring its viewers information that can impact their lives, and that’s what Phaphama has accomplished.”