Health Journalism in Sub-Saharan Africa

By Stefan Wollnik


African societies are still known for many health problems related mainly to poverty, especially communicable diseases (e.g. HIV, cholera). Nevertheless, some sub-Saharan societies are about to experience a change from communicable diseases to noncommunicable diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes or cancer. Such a change in health issues requires a professional handling of health news in order to increase both the individual and social perception concerning current and upcoming health problems. In this regard, a higher perception and awareness of health risks and their sanitary and economic consequences generated and fostered by professional media coverage is supposed to contribute to a better health situation in sub-Saharan societies. But there seem to be some barriers to professional journalism in African countries, foremost financial dependences, which affect the journalistic health coverage and therewith the perception of health news as well. One possible solution to this problem could be the use of Global Media Assistance to foster health journalism in sub-Saharan Africa. 


Against this background, in my PhD project I seek to examine the social importance of health journalism in sub-Saharan African societies in context of Global Media Assistance. Hence, I will focus on professional aspects like journalistic structures, role perceptions and behavior related to health journalism throughout sub-Saharan Africa and in particular in South Africa and Uganda. Based on media/communication and sociological concepts and theories this study aims to identify the social potential of health journalism for developing and emerging countries in the special context of Global Media Assistance and to propose options to further improve health journalism in the long term. 


In terms of research methods, a qualitative and comparative research design will be employed. In particular, this study relies mainly on the analysis of documents/media and expert/problem focused interviews.  


Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Jens Loenhoff, Duisburg-Essen University

Project partner: Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung



Teaser icon: Creaticca Ltd creative commons