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Long Form

Long Form Journalism by the Bhekisisa Team

A teenager receives a vaccination

How this country is beating anti-vaxxers at their own game

One in three French people think vaccines are unsafe, yet vaccine coverage in the country is rising. Here’s how they do...
Man in Ebola protection suit.

‘Most complex health crisis in history’: Congo struggles to contain Ebola

Political, security and cultural complications – not least a refusal to believe that Ebola exists – have thwarted efforts to overcome...
What happens when anesthesia works as well as it should?

This is what it’s like waking up during surgery

General anaesthetic is supposed to make surgery painless. Now there’s evidence that one person in 20 may be awake when doctors think they’re under.
Sold on the idea: Asiphe Ntshongontshi used the family calendar to keep track of when she took the HIV prevention pill. She lives in Masiphumelele outside Cape Town close to a youth centre and clinic that dish out the tablet.

One she called the ‘minister of love’. The other? He was the ‘minister of...

Since the country’s rollout, less than a quarter of people who’ve started taking the HIV prevention pill are young women — despite high HIV rates.
TB remains a leading cause of death in South Africa.

Anyone can catch this drug-resistant bug. Surviving treatment is another story.

For years, catching this drug-resistant bacteria meant painful treatment that risked your hearing and mental health. Now, that could be changing.
Tender delays have pushed a shortage of the popular birth control shot Nur-Isterate into its second year.

This popular birth control shot is out of stock for the second year running....

Women who have been forced to go without their usual birth control shot are now facing the consequences of months-long shortages.
Blood cancer patients such as Retha Wessels are forced to get a life-saving drug illegally to avoid paying thousands for it each month.

He would ransom the pills for something more precious than profit: His wife’s life

When a few months of treatment costs as much as a house, some patients are taking their lives and the law into their own hands to survive.
‘Don’t leave me

Cost of corruption – How a toddler  died at Bosasa’s detention centre

Bosasa bribed its way into contracts. Meet the four-year-old who paid the price.
The quest for a better life may be going virtual.

Gaming medicine: Virtual reality is bringing real-time relief for chronic pain

Virtual reality isn’t just for video games anymore. It’s revolutionising medicine, including the way we manage pain.
A mother delivers via C-section in Mozambique. In South Africa

A changing birth: What’s behind SA’s skyrocketing c-section rates?

Almost one in four babies born at public hospitals come into the world via c-section but is it costing some women their lives?

Elsa and Nosipho: They both sell sex for a living, but in opposite worlds

Does sex work legislation have an impact on violence and the spread of HIV? We follow two women who operate in opposite worlds to find out.
Despite concerns about the drug

Why science could finally be close to solving this birth control riddle

We could be just months away from knowing whether Depo-Provera use is linked to a higher risk of HIV infection in women.
From the informal market to booming business: Could this be the future of water?

Water in Ghana from pipe to packet: Is there a hidden cost to this...

In a country where pipes can stop short of reaching home, cheap sachets of water sold on the street could be an unlikely solution, but at what cost?
What’s behind mysterious cancer hot spots popping up all over the world?

Could this finally solve the Eastern Cape’s cancer mystery?

The substances that cause cancer leave their fingerprints behind. Now, the world may be closer than ever to unravelling the clues hidden in our DNA.
Undercover: Bhekisisa reporter Pontsho Pilane posed as a pregnant woman considering an abortion at the Amato Centre in Pretoria to learn about the pregnancy counselling it offers.

Pregnant? Need an abortion? Here’s where not to go

Are faith-based NGOs breaking the law when they refuse to give women information on where to terminate their pregnancies?
​Acid victim Hanifa Nakiryowa founded the Center for Rehabilitation of Survivors of Acid and Burns Violence.

Acid attacks: ‘I didn’t have the money to buy justice, but I had brains...

In the wake of acid attacks, victims — often women — can feel hopeless. Now, women around the world are fighting back.