Knight International Journalism Fellowships

Mozambique: Bring Rural Health Issues to National Attention


Savana reporter Salane Muchanga (left), a trainee of Knight Fellow Sayagues, interviews a Maputo resident on health concerns.

From her base at the weekly newspaper Savana in Maputo, Mozambique, Knight Health Journalism Fellow Mercedes Sayagues produced health coverage that transformed reporting at news organizations across the country.

She coached Savana journalists in the production of more than 200 stories, and the newspaper consistently produced high-quality coverage of issues ranging from alcohol abuse to malnutrition to reproductive health. The coverage increased the amount of attention other media outlets—such as the government-owned daily Noticias—now give to health issues.

Sayagues trained dozens of print and radio journalists—from the capital city Maputo to the most remote rural district, Mueda. The resulting stories brought to light the country’s harsh conditions and painfully poor health facilities. She also produced training resources such as a video on covering obstetric fistula, a disease resulting from poor reproductive health care that affects thousands of women across Africa.

Our Stories

  • Apr 262013

    How Health Coverage Went From Second-Rate to Top-Tier in Mozambique

    When Mercedes Sayagues arrived in Mozambique three years ago to begin work as a Knight International Journalism Fellow, health news was consigned to the back pages, health stories were based on news releases, and health assignments went to the least experienced reporters.

  • Feb 122012

    Knight Fellow Looks at What's Ahead in Health Journalism

    Knight International Health Fellow Mercedes Sayagues talked with IJNet recently about the challenges that exist for health journalists all over the world. At the top of the list, she says, are topics that are taboo - difficult to report because editors are often worried about publishing or broadcasting content that might be offensive. But she also sees hope in digital innovations that can make it easier to get important information out quickly.

  • Jan 232012

    Trio of Reporting Awards Helps Elevate Role of Health News and Women Journalists in Mozambique

    When Knight International Journalism Fellow Mercedes Sayagues arrived at the Savana newsroom in Maputo, Mozambique, in 2010, she found a lone woman reporter covering health and education news, stories that were largely ignored by editors more focused on politics, sports and corruption. “Salane Muchanga was the token woman, and not taken seriously,” recalls Sayagues.

    Sayagues went to work, guiding the young reporter in the basics of health journalism.

  • Mar 242011

    Mozambique Health Reporters Win Prestigious Award for Best Feature Writing

    Two health-related news stories published in Mozambique’s influential weekly Savana have won a prestigious award for best feature reporting in southern Africa. Knight International Journalism Fellow Mercedes Sayagues worked extensively with both young journalists to develop their skills and create strong health coverage in Mozambique.

    “Eating Sand” by Salane Muchanga, and “Fainting Spells at Quisse Mavota School: A Conflict of Knowledge” by Alves Talala, share the award for “Best Feature in Southern Africa” in the Gender and Media Awards.

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