Bhekisisa bagged five awards at the Discovery Health Journalism Awards on Wednesday night. From left: Amy Green, Mia Malan and Ina Skosana
Bhekisisa bagged five awards at the Discovery Health Journalism Awards on Wednesday night. From left: Amy Green, Mia Malan and Ina Skosana

Readers have sent us their letters with their thoughts about Bhekisisa: M&G's new Centre for Health Journalism*. We would like your vote on the best letter. Simply send the name of the person you think should win to [email protected] and you could win a one-year digital subscription to the Mail & Guardian.

Matokgo Makutoane
Private sector nurse, Northriding

The M&G Centre for Health Journalism should educate and empower South Africans with information on health-related matters. Journalists should communicate complex health topics in a way that people who are unfamiliar with medical jargon will easily understand. 

Every Friday, a magazine-like section should appear inside the Mail & Guardian focusing only on health so that people who don't like reading the paper can read it separately.

Information published must be up to date, evidence-based and include expert opinions as well as case studies of survivors.  I think a lot of attention should be given to communicable or infectious diseases, their prevention and the costs related to treatment. 

The challenges and successes of healthcare workers and the health department should be covered by comparing healthcare in different provinces. Likewise, South Africa should be compared with other countries when looking at issues of health system policy. 

Reporting from the health journalism centre should acknowledge health department and World Health Organisation "health day" calendars and create awareness about certain conditions. 

The centre should work with non-governmental organisations that focus on health to highlight the challenges in accessing services for people with disabilities. They should focus on "prevention is better than cure" and encourage the use of primary healthcare facilities. 

Edward Malatji
Primary health care nurse, Kempton Park

The centre should inform the community about both national and international health matters. Reporters should write about community health concerns and focus on questions and problems arising from their exposure to health services. 

It should inform readers about research, innovations and new products coming out of the health sector as well as campaigns run by the health department. HIV and tuberculosis co-infection should be covered because everybody is either infected or affected in some way. Readers should be updated about the National Health Insurance scheme as well as the work of non-governmental organisations, volunteers and home-based care organisations. 

The centre should shed some light on the general health of employees and the kind of help staff members receive in order to be well.  Healthcare workers' problems should also be addressed.

Career opportunities in the health sector, as well as training, bursary and scholarship opportunities, should be highlighted by the centre. 

If all of these points are considered, the Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism will be doing an excellent job of scrutinising health issues.  

Joy Whittaker
Zulu teacher and social worker, Sandton

I am very excited about the idea of a health journalism centre! Why? Because there is a need for this niche field of journalism. 

At present we have journalism and politics, journalism and law, journalism and business, and journalism and drama (bad news). This centre will link journalism and health issues, which is sorely needed. If the journalists can keep us coming back to read more, they will have succeeded. 

Bhekisisa's coverage should focus on all kinds of people: old, young, rural, urban, healthy and not so healthy. Training is essential in order to produce journalists who are experts and will write stories that are accurate, informative, interesting and positive and who know how to motivate Jo Phakathi/Public to change his ways. The health journalism centre is to be welcomed. 

*The M&G originally asked our readers to enter their preferred name for our Centre for Health Journalism. We did not find a name from those submitted, but decided to go with Bhekisisa, which means to look closely, or to scrutinise.