Long Form

Long Form Journalism by the Bhekisisa Team

Being bilingual is better for your brain. Now

Speak more than one language? This is what it does to your brain.

Speaking more than one language could lead to better tests scores and even being a more empathetic person.

Cobras & cures: Why the world is running chronically low on snake antivenom

Each year, millions will be bitten by venomous snakes and for many, antivenom will remain painfully out of reach. Discovering why...
Nongezile Sinkala walked 7km across hilly terrain and thick bush to get to the nearest taxi rank to take her sick grandson to the hospital.

‘God make us strong, I beg you, keep Luphumlo alive’

Mia Malan describes the arduous trek an Eastern Cape woman had to undertake to get medical attention for her sick grandson.
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 pregnant woman sits on a hospital bed.

Headaches, heartaches & pregnancy: Could this stem preeclampsia’s deadly tide?

This silent killer stalks expecting mothers around the world and is one of the leading causes of maternal mortality in South...
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?
End of the road: Ntombizodwa Matthews was wheeled put of Mafikeng Provincial Hospital in April because the facility had no staff to care for her. A month later she was buried.

Who killed Ntombizodwa Matthews? Politics, protest & corruption in the North West

A month after she was wheeled out of a North West hospital in a barrow, Ntombizodwa Matthews met her end. Her family blames politics for her death.
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.
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.

Is DIY HIV testing the latest Cape Town trend?

It starts with a swab but does it end with a diagnosis? Why the trickiest part of DIY HIV testing happens after the test.
Inside the 'dead zone': In an outdoor laboratory at Texas' Sam Houston State University

Afraid of death? Take comfort that you’ll live on in varied and surprising ways

Most of us would rather not know what happens to our bodies after death. But that breakdown gives birth to new life in unexpected ways.
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.
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.
It's not only women who prefer Caesarean sections

Caesarean vs vaginal birth: A mother’s choice, not her doctor’s

C-sections may result in fewer lawsuits, but they are not always the best option.
A woman watches from her window as police look for evidence after 20-year-old Carlos Barron was shot and killed in Chicago. The city is still very racially segregated and has high rates of violence.

This slashed rates of violence by 70% in some areas. Could it work in...

In many ways, violence is like cholera, passing from person to person and treating it in similar ways is working to reduce it.
Nigeria’s maternal mortality is high. But if mothers such as Oluwakemi Junaid won’t go to hospital

Old birth rites, new ways

When bringing a new life into the world risks taking another, even old traditions have to adopt new ways.