Citizen journalists report about health problems in South Africa. That is OurHealth.

We present you our interview with project manager of OurHealth Sibongile Nkosi.

Q: What is OurHealth ?

A: OurHealth is a project driven by a committed group of citizen journalists reporting on the health issues in their specific communities, many of which are rural and do not feature on the mainstream news agenda.

Q: What inspired you to launch this impressive project ?

A: When the Health Minister announced the piloting of the National Health Insurance pilot site. We wanted to see if there will be any change on the ground in terms of service delivery in those districts. We wanted to monitor the piloting of the national health insurance in those districts.

Q: Is OurHealth related exclusively to a particular communities ?

A: The project is based in all nine provinces in South Africa, there are two citizen journalist in each National Health Insurance district.

Q: What does your citizen journalism programme include ?

A: The programme includes cjs writing health stories for the Health-e website, but sometimes the stories gets sent to Health-e’s print clients for instance The Star Newspaper and Pretoria news. South Africa has been experiencing medicine stock outs in the public health facilities. So we added another project where the citizen journalist visit a small sample of pharmacies once a month to report on the stockout of essential medicines. The programme is part of the Southern Africa Regional Partnership on Access to Medicines and Diagnostics project called Tendai.

Q: Are citizens open toward citizen journalism trainning and how long it takes to train citizen journalists ?

A: Due to limited on training. We have had three trainings for the citizen journalist. 1st training was when we just launched the project and a second one when we expanded the training and also another one when we got extra people.

The Cjs send their diary to the project manager on Monday where she helps them with the story idea and the angle and sometimes with interviewing questions and there by also assist them with practical training with stories.

Q: What is our mission/aim ?

A: Our aim is to :

– shine light on the health issues and challenges in some of the poorest, most marginalised areas of the country;

– get reports directly from the people who use public health facilities every day about their experiences;

– hold the district service-providers accountable for conditions and services at clinics and hospitals, as well as municipalities who supply services that affect health, such as water and sanitation;

– report on inspirational people and projects that are helping to improve the health of ordinary people.

Q: How do you see citizen journalism in the future ?

A: I see the project expanding to other districts in the different provinces especially those affected by poor public health facilities, as it will help highlight some of the problems in those areas. I see us becoming the leading project on community stories and giving a voice to those who don’t.

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