Knight International Journalism Fellowships

Zambia: Ramp up Health Coverage to Save Lives


Zarina Geloo launched the country’s first weekly health page in the Times of Zambia, the country’s largest daily newspaper. She trained a team of a dozen reporters to cover issues such as AIDS prevention, malaria, measles and cancer.

A front-page story on a measles epidemic led to a government vaccination campaign targeting 1.6 million people. A series on typhoid cases from contaminated drinking water in the capital triggered a government investigation and a new water treatment program. Geloo also created a health journalists’ association, the Forum for Health Writers, which provides briefings with health experts.

One journalist who regularly attends the Forum briefings created a twice-weekly, health call-in show on Radio Phoenix, a private station in the capital. The show features experts from the Forum briefings. The Forum also produces a monthly newsletter that is distributed to more than 650 journalists in southern Africa, including about 250 in Zambia.

In April 2011, ICFJ received a grant from the Washington, D.C.-based Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids to conduct a media workshop on the impact of smoking and on tobacco-control measures in Zambia. Geloo organized the curriculum and served as the lead trainer.

Our Stories

  • Mar 12011

    Dogged Reporter Uncovers Measles Outbreak in Zambia Government Responds with Massive Vaccine Campaign

    On her way to work this summer, Times of Zambia reporter Mirriam Zimba overheard two nurses discussing a startling rise in the number of measles cases. She called government health officials, who brushed her off. Knight International Health Journalism Fellow Zarina Geloo encouraged her to look into the matter.

    “I told her, ‘you have to follow this up,’” says Geloo. “Up until that point, health officials were side-stepping the facts, and no reporters were pushing hard enough to get the right answers.” Zimba did press for answers.

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  • After this series ran, the Ministry of Health announced a massive, nationwide measles vaccine campaign.

    10/14/2010