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.

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