First Pan-African Health Journalism Network Created

The new organization, the African Health Journalists Association, aims to improve the quality and quantity of reporting on health issues so that people across the continent can make healthy choices for their lives. The group’€™s media coverage will encourage the best possible public health programs and policies throughout the continent.

The association will create a digital network with online learning, the latest data visualization tools, and techniques for multimedia storytelling. It will serve as a one-stop source of health experts, resources, and journalists who will collaborate on cross-border stories. The association will provide training for its members in everything from investigative health reporting to data mining. On a new website and social network, members will share reporting and writing strategies.

‘€œThis network will take health journalism to a new level of professionalism and cooperation in Africa,’€ said Joyce Barnathan, president of the International Center for Journalists, which organized the meeting at the request of African journalists. The Rockefeller Foundation sponsored the four-day gathering at its conference center in Bellagio, Italy.

A steering committee of journalists from South Africa, Zambia, Uganda, Mozambique, Ethiopia and Kenya selected Declan Okpalaeke, a respected Nigerian journalist, as its chairman to launch the new association. Okpalaeke, a winner of CNN’€™s African Journalist of the Year Awards for his coverage of health, science and the environment, is a Knight Health Journalism Fellow.

‘€œWe believe the African Health Journalism Association will serve as a gateway to all of Africa for organizations wishing to promote health and support health journalism,’€ said Okpalaeke. ‘€œBy pooling resources, we can provide more journalists with a richer array of training and tools than ever before.’€

Zarina Geloo, a former Knight Health Journalism Fellow and a media consultant based in Zambia, will serve as vice-chair. Joy Wanja, a science and health reporter at the Daily Nation in Nairobi, Kenya, was named secretary. Health-e Managing Editor Kerry Cullinan is a member of the steering committee.

The pan-African health journalism association will encourage the formation of national health journalism groups in Africa, building on the success of associations in Uganda, Zambia and Kenya. These organizations were established with help from Knight International Journalism Fellows. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation support the fellowships.

Those interested in joining the association are strongly encouraged to join the Facebook group ‘€œAfrican Health Journalists Association’€.

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