All the best health stories from
the Bhekisisa team this week
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Podcasts have become one of the most popular ways to distribute news — for good reasons.

They’re easy to download, you can listen to them on your phone, literally anywhere, and you get to know the “people behind the quotes” better than in print stories because you hear how they sound and interpret their intonation. 

Today we bring you such a podcast — about how nurses teamed up with traditional healers to bring mental health services to South Africa’s far-flung corners.  

Why does it matter? 

Because research shows us many South Africans would visit a traditional healer before consulting a western doctor — orthodox medicine is often mistrusted. To improve the uptake of health services, building bridges between western and traditional medicine is crucial

Our podcast from rural KwaZulu-Natal shows us that when psychology meets tradition, mental health services just might make it to communities and that traditional healers may be the key to breaking down stigma around psychiatric illnesses.  

In fact, in this case, traditional healers were able to diagnose more patients with psychiatric disorders than specially-trained doctors — because of the power of collaboration.   

I hope you enjoy listening to the story of the people of Vulindlela.  

Mia Malan 
Bhekisisa editor-in-chief

Help us keep quality health journalism and social justice reporting free. Click here.
Follow the story of a traditional healer and mother who went to seek help from Western doctors to treat her daughter's mental illness.

“I felt very bad not being able to treat my daughter because I can’t make pills to get rid of the voices in her head. But when I took her to the research team that meant she was given the appropriate treatment.”

Gavin Fischer looks at how traditional healers and western healthcare workers can learn from each other and, in the process, lessen the pressure on clinics.

Listen to the podcast
[PODCAST] Why traditional healers may be the key to breaking down stigma around mental health via @Bhekisisa_MG: [PODCAST] Why traditional healers may be the key to breaking down stigma around mental health via @Bhekisisa_MG:
Our Mia Malan and the DG Murray Trust programme staff during a break at Bhekisisa's op-ed writing workshop.
Last week, Bhekisisa editor Mia Malan worked with the staff of the DG Murray Trust in Cape Town on developing their skills to write impactful comment pieces. Together, they discovered the power of using the news media to amplify the voices of civil society.   

This was the response on Twitter:

Why is it important to write a powerful op-ed? It can lead to policy change or give rise to new projects.

We published an opinion piece by Shenilla Mohamed, the executive director of Amnesty International South Africa, on how a lack of transport and everyday trauma conspire to put South Africa's mothers in the grave. The piece led to the creation of a new project on maternal dignity by Embrace, an incubator project of the DG Murray Trust. It also inspired our op-ed workshop. 

Want to submit an opinion piece to us? Read our guidelines here.
We've had some new subscribers so let's give a warm welcome to:

Dayna Myers of Annapolis, USA
Unathi Band of the Department of Education
Jimmy Volmink of Stellenbosch University
Bronte Davies of the University of Cape Town
Hans Hugo of Western Cape
Henry Van Heerden of Western Cape
Krish Vallabhjee of the Western Cape Department of Health
Marieta Liebenberg of the Health Systems Trust
Palesa Manaleng of Johannesburg
Xolile Dike of the Department of Public Works
Obi Onyes of Live Wish
Shelley McGee of the South African Medical Association
Tanya Jacobs of the School of Public Health, University of the Western Cape
Christine Haberstock of Berlin, Germany
Lesego Nthutang of the National Department of Health
Chuma Sineke and Shakna of Enable All Young People
Khayakazi Namfu of Public School Partnership
Kristal Duncan of Youth Capital
Julie Mentor of Embrace
Kwanela and Corne Kritzinger of the DG Murray Trust

Like our newsletter? Forward it to your family, friends or colleagues so they can sign up themselves.

Opportunities from around the web:

Sexual rights litigation network manager, Initiative for Strategic Litigation in Africa (ISLA)

The feminist and pan-African organisation, ISLA, seeks to employ a feminist litigation network manager to be based in South Africa.

The manager will be responsible for managing the activities and providing leadership in developing and implementing the Sexual Rights Network.

Successful candidates will have a bachelors degree, at least five years' experience in a network management position, and in-depth knowledge of strategic litigation and fundraising experience. 

Applicants must be willing to work outside of regular weekday hours and travel occasionally within and out of South Africa.

Preference will be given to women.

Deadline: 30 September
Find out more

Project manager, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) — Botswana

GIZ seeks to employ an antiretroviral (ARV) drugs value chain project manager to be based in Gaborone, Botswana.

The manager will prepare in-depth analysis of development opportunities within the ARV value chain, plan and monitor the efficient use of project finances, build, maintain and update a monitoring and evaluation system and support the programme manager in preparing high quality reporting.

The successful candidate will have a master's degree or equivalent in pharmacology, bio-medical sciences, biotechnology and / or public policy, public administration or an equivalent. 

All candidates must be fluent in English and knowledge of an additional international language will be considered an advantage.

Deadline: 4 October
Find out more

Call for applications, Rise Up: Gender Equity Initiative (GEI)

Rise Up, a leader in the global movement for gender equity launched the GEI in partnership with Cummins Inc. in order to advance education, opportunity, social justice and gender equity in South Africa.

The organisation will select 20 civil society and non-profit leaders from Gauteng and Durban to participate in a week-long advocacy and leadership accelerator workshop in February 2020. The purpose of the workshop is to build their advocacy capacity, strengthen leadership skills and develop a holistic understanding of the issues affecting women and girls in their communities.

Leaders will then have the opportunity to apply for competitive seed funding to launch their strategies to advance gender equity and justice across the country.

Deadline: 28 October
Find out more

Call for nominations, Aspen New Voices fellowship

Nominations are now open for the Aspen Institute's New Voices 2020 fellowship. The opportunity offers development experts from across Africa, Asia, and Latin America a year-long programme of media support, advocacy training research and writing coaching.

The institute seeks leaders from countries that are underrepresented in global development conversations. Successful candidates will live and work in the communities they service and advocate for changes they want to see at home. Twenty-five fellows will be selected for the 2020 class of which 15 will be experts in fields such as infectious and non-infectious diseases, food security, mental health, development economics, health and human rights as well as climate change.

The remaining 10 will be experts working on the frontlines of sexual and reproductive health rights.

Deadline: 15 October
Find out more

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

The Portfolio Committee on Health invites stakeholders and interested parties to submit written submissions on the NHI Bill. The objective of the Bill is to achieve universal access to quality health care 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: 11 October
Click here to submit your comment
For any inquiries email Vuyokazi Majalamba or call her on 021 403 3770 or 083 709 8522

PS Planning on making a submission and want your views heard? Help us broaden the public debate on the National Health Insurance. Add your submission to our public repository.

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 proposals, African Research Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases (ARNTD): African Researchers' Small Grants Program

The ARNTD with support from the United States Agency for International Development and the United Kingdom (UK) aid from the UK government through the Coalition for Operational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases is seeking grant proposals.

Proposals will be for both operational and social science research on emerging challenges facing NTD programme implementation in Africa. 

Researchers — especially junior researchers and academics based in research institutions or universities in Africa may apply.

The small grants targeted at junior and senior researchers at the masters or PhD level will provide grants ranging from USD$5 000 to $25 000. 

Applications are accepted in both English and French.

Deadline: 30 September
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

Partnership opportunity, Rise Against Hunger: 2020 Nourishing Lives

The international hunger relief organisation Rise Against Hunger seeks to partner with organisations around the world to provide food and other life-changing assistance to the world's most vulnerable. The organisation provides fortified rice-soy meals.

Rise Against Hunger has opened applications for the provision of food assistance for meal, nutrition and medical programmes under its "Nourishing Lives" programme.

The organisation will evaluate partnership applications by the level of need within the community, the sustainability of the organisation's programme, its ability to import and manage in-country distribution as well as its ability to conduct monitoring and evaluation.

Deadline: 30 September
Find out more

Regional stakeholder engagement advisor, AVAC — New York

The advocacy organisation, AVAC, seeks to employ a regional stakeholder engagement advisor. 

The advisor will provide technical, content-focused support to the organisation's research engagement activities, with a focus on activities in East and Southern Africa.

The successful candidate will have a passion for and experience in HIV prevention research advocacy. The candidate will also have a bachelors degree in a relevant field or a master's degree and/or experience in public or global health, development or other relevant fields.

Find out more

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

Quote This Woman+ is a project of the non-profit Media Monitoring Africa 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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