All the best health stories from
the Bhekisisa team this week
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So much lies in the chance of our birth — where, when and how you come into the world can determine all sorts of things that will go on to shape the life you live, not least of all — sadly — whether you live or die as a child. 

And South Africa pays more attention than most to the circumstances of our birth

In 1997, maternal deaths became a notifiable event by law. A year later, the country created the National Committee for Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths and now, every three years the country produces a detailed report on what is killing pregnant women before, during or shortly after birth — and what could have prevented it. 

The latest three-year review published in 2016 found that almost 600 fewer women died in that year than at the height of South Africa’s maternal death crisis in 2009.

And the country’s made major gains recently in reducing some of the leading causes of death. Deaths due to non-pregnancy related infections such as HIV and TB almost halved between 2014 and 2016. South Africa also managed to chart a 22% reduction in deadly obstetric haemorrhages. 

But deaths from hypertensive diseases such as preeclampsia are on the rise. 

This week, meet Koiwah Koi-Larbi Ofosuapea.

By the time she was 30, Koiwah had lost two babies to preeclampsia — a condition she’d never even heard of. Find out how she channelled a mother’s anguish into new thinking about an old problem — and what South Africa can learn from it.

Happy reading, 

Laura López González, deputy editor
Silent killer: Increasing the number of recommended antenatal visits in South Africa has drastically increased the number of women diagnosed with preeclampsia. But it's still killing women.

Globally, one in 10 maternal deaths is due to a group of silent killers many women may never even have heard about. 

Koiwah had been for every single antenatal check-up religiously. No one ever said the word "preeclampsia." But by the age of 30, she'd lost two babies to the condition.

Now, in Accra, she's trying to change what women know about the condition. And science is hoping new ways of thinking about testing and diagnosis could help diagnose women earlier and save their lives. 

Our Gideon Yeboah reports. 

Get the whole story

Headaches, heartaches & pregnancy: Why this silent killer is stalking South Africa's women & many may not even know its name. @Bhekisisa_MG reports: Headaches, heartaches & pregnancy: Why this silent killer is stalking South Africa's women & many may not even know its name. @Bhekisisa_MG reports:
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Bhekisisa executive director and editor-in-chief speaks at the Forbes Africa Future of Heath Summit. (Twitter)
If you don't follow us on social media, Bhekisisa has recently been in conference mode.

Our executive director and editor-in-chief Mia Malan spoke at a number of events. She spoke at the Forbes Africa Future of Health Summit with Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku:


At the African Investigative Journalism Conference, she gave some insights on how solutions-journalism can be a tool for investigative journalism:

Malan also shared pointers on how to write a social justice story that will get read with her long-form narrative feature: Elsa and Nosipho: They both sell sex for a living, but in opposite worlds:

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

So add your voice to the more than 100 members of civil society and the public who have chimed in with suggestions about how to make the road to an NHI a little better!

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'd like to welcome our new subscribers! Welcome to quality health journalism.

Reynier Krause from Gauteng
Angelina Valencia from Sweden
Jack Selowa of Thee Hemp
Francine Dubreuil from Western Cape
Bev Foss of ROH3
Jenny-Lee Panayides of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research
Koliswa Hlekani of the South African Medical Association
Simphiwe Mdluli of the Africa Health Research Institute
Hannah Chibayambuya of Health-e News
Danielle Van Der Merwe of the Free State Department of Health
Nabeelah McKechnie of Johnson & Johnson Global Public Health
Nikki Schaay of the University of Western Cape School of Public Health
Nelly Abrams from Gauteng
Sandra Chinyanga from KwaZulu-Natal

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Opportunities from around the web:

Outreach officers, TB & HIV Investigative Network (Think) — KwaZulu-Natal

The non-profit organisation Think seeks to appoint four outreach officers to be based in uMgungundlovu, KwaZulu-Natal.

The officers will be responsible for supporting the strengthening of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) care and treatment in the district.

The successful candidates will be enrolled nurses with two years' work experience and good knowledge of TB/MDR-TB as a community health facilitator.

All candidates must have a valid code 8 drivers' licence.

Deadline: 13 November
Find out more

Board member, Aids Foundation South Africa

The board of directors of Aids Foundation South Africa seeks to appoint an additional member. The member will serve on the board in a non-executive role.

The ideal candidate will be a clinician or a public health specialist with experience in HIV, TB, as well as sexual and reproductive health. The candidate will also have knowledge of public and / or community health programming.

To submit an expression of interest, applicants can email Khulani Khuzwayo on

Deadline: 18 November
Find out more

Programme manager, FHI360: EpiC — Pretoria

FHI360 seeks to appoint a programme manager of its Meeting Targets and Maintaining Epidemic Control (EpiC) project.

EpiC is a five-year undertaking funded by Pepfar and USAid dedicated to achieving and maintaining HIV epidemic control. In South Africa, the project will be centred around voluntary medical male circumcision. 

The successful candidate will have a bachelor's degree in management, international development, public health policy or any related field. Candidates must have at least five years' experience in programme management of multi-year international health or development projects. All applicants should have previous experience working with US government funding, preferably Pepfar.

Deadline: 8 November
Find out more

Panel discussion, Dullah Omar Institute & Human Rights Watch — Western Cape

The Dullah Omar Institute in partnership with Human Rights Watch will be hosting a panel discussion about human rights on the continent.

The panel will focus on the main human rights challenges across Africa and what efforts the South African government has taken, could have taken or should take in future to help defend and advance human rights across the continent.

Panellists include:

  • John Jeffery, Deputy Justice Minister of South Africa
  • Benyam Dawit Mezmur, head of the Children’s Rights Project at the University of the Western Cape, Vice-Chairperson of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and member of the United Nations (UN) Committee on the rights of children
  • Zainab Bangura, former UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict and former Minister of Health and Sanitation and Minister of Foreign Affairs in Sierra Leone
  • Nic Dawes, Deputy Executive Director of Human Rights Watch and Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism board member

The discussion will be moderated by Mausi Segun, Executive Director, Africa at Human Rights Watch.

Date: 6 November 2019
Time: 2pm to 4pm
Venue: 1A and B, School of Public Health, University of the Western Cape

To RSVP, email Crystal Nitsckie at by 25 October 2019.

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

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.

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.

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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