The courtyard at St. Mary’s Hospital Lacor in Gulu, northern Uganda.
Photo by Harro Albrecht.

Nieman Global Health Fellowships

Now in its fourth year, the Nieman Global Health Reporting Fellowship program continues to bring highly qualified journalists to Harvard for a year of concentrated study followed by a four-month field project in a developing country.

The fellows have direct access to the world-class facilities and faculty of the university, including the Harvard School of Public Health and the Harvard Initiative on Global Health, which allows them to develop the international understanding and contacts needed to report authoritatively on global health issues. Fellows emerge from the program as leading experts on global health matters.

Established in 2005 with a three-year catalytic grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the program is currently being funded by the Nieman Foundation as we seek new financial support for two Global Health Reporting Fellowships (one U.S., one international) per year.

Understanding the Need

Why the focus on global health? As billions of private and tax dollars are being spent on international health aid projects, global health reporting is simply not a priority for many news organizations. Stories are typically framed in the context of epidemics, impending crises or the overriding influence of U.S. and/or World Bank politics, rather than examining the larger issues that shape global health needs and remedies.

One example of how the much-needed deeper investigations are enabled by the fellowship comes from Margie Mason, Asia-Pacific medical writer for The Associated Press from the Class of 2009. Mason has just finished her field work in the United States, Cambodia, Vietnam and Africa, and has completed a five-part series for the AP on antibiotic resistance. Unlike other reports covering single aspects of the resistance story, Mason’s series takes a global look at the problems caused by totally drug-resistant tuberculosis, malaria, HIV and staph bacteria in both rich and poor economies, and it asks experts worldwide what it would take to address these issues. Her investigative series connects presumably unrelated elements—from how agricultural practices build resistant strains to how current USAID-required treatment regimes contribute to the problem—and delivers fact-based analysis narrated through powerful personal stories.

Another example of the impact of frequent, informed global health reporting comes from Harro Albrecht, who was in the first class of Global Health Fellows in 2007. A medical writer and editor with the German newsweekly Die Zeit, Albrecht’s initial fieldwork project, a 10-part series taking a critical look at the growing international health aid industry, won several prestigious journalism prizes and international recognition. In the two years since his fellowship, Albrecht has become the leading global health watchdog in Europe. He has written over 50 articles in various publications, gives frequent talks and commentary, and was recently appointed a journalist juror for a new EU health journalism prize, launched by the European Commission in February 2009. Albrecht is also part of an interdisciplinary group working on the creation of a “Nobel Prize” for public health, called the Virchow Prize.

Hopewell Rugoho-Chin’ono from Zimbabwe is our current Global Health Fellow.

Nieman Special Projects Manager Stefanie Friedhoff continues to oversee the Global Health Fellowship program and guides the fellows as they develop their fieldwork projects.

Past Nieman Fellows in Global Health Reporting are:

Class of 2007
Harro Albrecht (Die Zeit, Germany)
Field work sample: “Dick in Afrika” (Obese in Africa)
David Kohn (The Baltimore Sun, USA)
Field work sample: “Psychotherapy for All: An Experiment”
Kondwani Munthali (Malawian Broadcasting Company, Malawi)
Munthali’s blog

Class of 2008
Ran An (China Newsweek, China)
Field work sample: “The Other Side of China’s Economic Miracle”
Christine Gorman (Time contributor, USA)
Gorman’s blog
Field work sample: “Malawi halts nursing brain drain”
Andrew Quinn (Reuters, UK)
Quinn’s blog
Field Work Sample: “Africa vaccine trial new push against malaria”

Class of 2009
Kalpana Jain (Business Standard Newspaper Group, India)
Interview with Jain
Margie Mason (The Associated Press, USA)
Mason profile
“First case of highly drug-resistant TB found in US”
Ronke Olawale (The Guardian Ltd., Nigeria)

Class of 2010
Hopewell Rugoho-Chin’ono (Television International, Zimbabwe)
  Helen Branswell (Canadian Press, Canada; deferred to 2011)

Related Links
Journalists Explore Global Health Through Nieman Fellowship at HSPH
Global Health Fellowships at the Nieman Foundation