All the best health stories from
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I grew up as an only child and spent most of my days with my dog, Charlie

Charlie was my greatest confidant, my partner in crime and my best friend. When I was upset, he was there to listen, and I always felt better after a good sob into his fur. No judgment or empty words to try and fix me. Just his solemn, reassuring presence and perhaps a nose lick here and there. 

Little did I know back then that there was science behind my feeling better after a cuddle from Charlie. 

Fast forward 25 years and I found myself at the Krugersdorp Magistrate Court one icy cold Saturday morning to cover how furry friends from the therapy dog organisation, Top Dogs, are helping to prepare child survivors of sexual abuse to testify in court. 

Meet Prosecutor Flake:

Testifying can be traumatising for children but research shows that animal-assisted therapy may be able to help children through the scary experience.

What struck me while I was shooting the video is how tiny the children were. Some no older than four or five. 

As convicted child rapist Nicholas Ninow takes the stand at his sentencing in Pretoria this week, we look at how Gauteng organisations are making the courts a little kinder for victims — and boosting conviction rates too. 

Watch the full video here

Dylan Bush, senior multimedia journalist

Help us keep quality health journalism and social justice reporting free. Click here.

The Lean Healthcare Summit will inspire the healthcare community to advance lean thinking and practice in their facilities to improve efficacy, free resources, reduce waiting times, impact staff morale, delight patients and save lives. During the Summit you will hear case studies and talks from Lean CEOs and leading international Lean practitioners on meeting the challenges in raising performance in healthcare and related organisations. There will be a particular focus on the African context.

We are proud to host three public sector hospital CEOs as speakers, including Grey Dube of Leratong Hospital, Gladys Bogoshi representing Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital and Groote Schuur Hospital CEO Bhavna Patel. Sharon Vasuthevan, Executive at Life Healthcare, one of South Africa’s top private hospital groups, will also be speaking.

All these leaders have embraced Lean and enjoy the benefit that it has brought to their healthcare facilities. John Toussaint, the keynote speaker, is the founder and Chairman of Catalysis, USA. He is a world-renowned healthcare improvement leader working across the globe, including South Africa. Don’t miss out on hearing more from these local and international healthcare Lean leaders. Contact Mia Faull for more information.
By the time South African children are 17, about 1 in 3 will have been sexually abused.

And if their abusers ever see a courtroom, they may be called to testify.

"Courtrooms are not built for children, it's a very daunting experience," the Teddy Bear Foundation's clinical director Shaheda Omar says.

The process isn't just stressful, it can be traumatic. 

Our Dylan Bush takes a look at how animal-assisted therapy is helping make Gauteng courts a little kinder.  

Watch the video
[VIDEO] Convicted child rapist #NicholasNinow’s sentencing trial began this week. For SA’s tiniest victims, testifying can be daunting. Find out the surprising way some are trying to make the courts a little more kid-friendly, via @Bhekisisa_MG. #CSA [VIDEO] Convicted child rapist #NicholasNinow’s sentencing trial began this week. For SA’s tiniest victims, testifying can be daunting. Find out the surprising way some are trying to make the courts a little more kid-friendly, via @Bhekisisa_MG. #CSA
Bhekisisa executive director and editor-in-chief Mia Malan.
This week, our Mia Malan is at United Kingdom's Oxford University — the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism —
to give a public lecture about Bhekisisa's rise to independence through donor-funded journalism.

Her lecture entitled, "Healing words: Innovations in health reporting" was presented at the world-renowned Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University.

Here are some highlights:

Missed it? Don't worry, you can catch a recording of her lecture here

Do you love our content? Contribute to quality health and social justice journalism by investing R300 a month in us and get a free T-shirt designed by our reporters.
[WATCH] @Bhekisisa_MG's public lecture on its rise to independence through donor-funded #journalism at Oxford University's @risj_oxford: [WATCH] @Bhekisisa_MG's public lecture on its rise to independence through donor-funded #journalism at Oxford University's @risj_oxford:
Have 5 minutes? Take our short NHI survey.

Help us gauge public participation around the National Health Insurance, freely and anonymously.

If you’d like to add your voice, take five minutes to complete our 12-question survey. The survey also allows civil society members to upload their submissions to the NHI and whether or not they would like these to be made public.

While the survey is anonymous, we plan to analyse and publish the overall results on our website, and make the anonymous dataset available publically. Submissions marked for public consumption will be made available on our website as well as via The centre would like to thank our civil society reviewers who helped us draft and refine the survey questions

The deadline for input is 5 December
Click here to complete the survey
Help @Bhekisisa_MG gauge the quality of public participation around the National Health Insurance #NHI. Complete the five-minute survey here: Help @Bhekisisa_MG gauge the quality of public participation around the National Health Insurance #NHI. Complete the five-minute survey here:
We've had some new subscribers. Welcome one, welcome all to quality health journalism!

Fidelis Zvomuya from Gauteng
Kotua Sonele from Western Cape
Rob Reddick of Mosaic Science/ Wellcome Trust
Nicola Jackson from Western Cape
Michael Gwarisa of Health Times
Mark Ritchie of Global Minnesota

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Opportunities from around the web:

Medical officer, Society for Family Health (SFH) — KwaZulu-Natal

The SFH, a South African affiliate of Population Services International (PSI) seeks to appoint a medical officer to be based in uMgungundlovu and Harry Gwala in KwaZulu-Natal on a fixed term contract.

SFH concentrates on HIV issues and uses social marketing to motivate behavioural change regarding consistent condom use, HIV testing and other prevention behaviours.

The officer will be responsible for theatre operations, client medical screening, safety coordination, adverse events management and mobilising and outreach activities.

The successful candidate will have a bachelor of medicine, bachelor of surgery and experience in voluntary medical male circumcision. All candidates must be registered at the Health Professions Council of South Africa.

Deadline: 30 October
Find out more

Call for registration, International AIDS Conference — San Francisco and Oakland

Registration has been opened for the 23rd International AIDS Conference which will take place from 6 to 10 July 2020.

Next year's AIDS Conference will mark the first time the world's largest conference on HIV and AIDS will be hosted in two neighbouring cities.

Conference registration has opened two months early to allow delegates more time to apply for visas.

Early registration ends on 15 January, 2020. Group registration only applies to five or more people and the organisation requesting a group registration must nominate one group representative who will administer the group booking.

Media registration is free for eligible members of the media who will be attending in their capacity as journalists, photographers, videographers and community educators.

For more information about visa applications, click here.
To register, click here.

Advocacy officer, Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Task Force (Sweat) — Eastern Cape

The non-governmental organisation, Sweat, seeks to appoint an advocacy officer to be based in East London, Eastern Cape.

The officer will be responsible for advocacy and engagement with stakeholders and players in the district around the needs of sex workers and the programme's implementation. 

The successful candidate will have a social science degree with a minimum of two years' experience in lobbying, advocacy, human rights or HIV.

All candidates must have experience in sex work programming and conducting trainings. 

Deadline: 25 October
Find out more

Meta-Research for Transforming Clinical Research, What should we change in the way we are doing research, 25 November 2019 — Paris

Organised by the Methods in Research on Research (MiRoR) consortium, this meeting will look at meta-research, for instance, within preclinical studies as well as opportunities for data sharing, including within the pharmaceutical industry.

Other subjects to be discussed include tools and strategies to increase the replicability of studies and new approaches to evaluate researchers. Registration is free, but seats are limited.

Click here to find out more

Public lecture: Harnessing the Immune Response — To measles elimination and beyond, National Institute for Communicable Diseases — Johannesburg

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases will be hosting Melinda Suchard on 4 November at 5.30 pm as part of the Poliomyelitis Research Foundation's 14th James HS Gear Memorial Lecture. 

The talk will take place in the James Gear Auditorium.

RSVP by emailing Irma Latsky or contact them on 011 555 0395

Call for public comment, National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill — deadline extended

The Portfolio Committee on Health invites stakeholders and interested parties to submit written submissions on the NHI Bill now before 29 November.

The objective of the Bill is to achieve universal access to quality healthcare services in South Africa as per Section 27 of the Constitution. 

As part of this, the Bill sets up the creation of an NHI Fund and outlines its powers, functions and governance structures. The Fund will be used to strategically purchase healthcare services on behalf of citizens and certain categories of foreign nationals to ensure the equitable, effective and efficient utilisation of its resources.

Deadline: 29 November
Click here to submit your comment
For any inquiries email Vuyokazi Majalamba or call her on 021 403 3770 or 083 709 8522

PS ICYMI: Our recent story about the quality of public participation made some major waves. Now, we've created a survey to help put some numbers behind the narratives.

Take a couple of minutes to take our 12-question survey and help us gauge the level of public participation around the process and possible ways to improve it.

While the survey is anonymous, we'll publish the results on our website, at the end of the submission period. They will also be made available on We will not include submissions marked as private in the results.

A special thank you to our civil society reviewers who helped us draft the questions!

Call for Applications, Emerging Voices for Global Health (EV4GH)

Young health systems researchers are encouraged to apply for this mentorship programme. During the course of the programme, successful candidates will receive e-coaching as well as in-person training on topics such as scientific presentation, networking and communication. Fellows will then participate in the Sixth Global Symposium on Health Systems Research in Dubai in November 2020.

Deadline: 6 February 2020
Find out more 

Call for papers, BioMed Central (BMC)

Submissions are now open to contribute manuscripts to the following journals: BMC Public Health; Environmental Health; Environmental Sciences Europe; Globalization and HealthMicrobiome and One Health Outlook.

The theme across all journals is environmental justice. Papers should shed light on the contribution evidence-based research can give to develop better practices and policies towards stronger environmental justice.

Submissions can include but are not limited to research on air pollution, sewage management, water systems management, drinking water quality and pesticides.

Deadline: 1 November
Find out more

Call for abstracts, Health Systems Trust

Abstract submissions are now open for the 2020 edition of the South African Health Review (SAHR). The coming edition's theme is equitable healthcare for people with disabilities in South Africa.

The Health Systems Trust is seeking abstracts providing fresh insights into health systems strengthening efforts for equitable healthcare for persons with disabilities. Preference will be given to manuscripts that take into account the complexities and opportunities for developing and sustaining inclusive health systems, especially in the context of universal health coverage.

The review will represent an evidence base which can be used to strengthen health systems and services to inform future policy development in South Africa.

Deadline: 31 October
Find out more

Call for female experts in any field, Quote This Woman+ — Various locations

Quote This Woman+ is a project to establish an online database of women and non-binary experts to improve gender representation in sourcing among the media. During the election season alone, Quote This Woman+ fielded more than 500 calls from journalists wanting to increase the voices of women in the media.

Keen to be quoted? Submit your details to

Deadline: N/A
Find out more

Have something to say or an opportunity to share? Let us know. Email tip-offs, comments or story and opinion suggestions to 

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The Bhekisisa Team
Copyright © 2019 Bhekisisa Development Media NPC. All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism, Metal Box
25 Owl Street, 4th Floor, Braamfontein Werf, 2092, Johannesburg, South Africa

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