Mia Malan is the founder and editor-in-chief of the Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism, a South African-based media start-up. She has worked in newsrooms in Johannesburg, Nairobi and Washington, DC, winning more than 30 awards for her radio, print and television work. A former Knight International Journalism Fellow and a Reuters Institute Journalism Fellow, Mia speaks internationally about health issues in Africa and media sustainability in the Global South.
In addition to her editing and reporting, Mia is frequently asked to speak on health issues for local and international media such as National Public Radio, Vox, BBC, Channel 4 and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. She regularly moderates panels for high-level events. Among others, this includes the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria’s 2022 World Health Assembly media roundtable; the UNAIDS session at the UN’s General Assembly’s High Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS; and World Economic Forum’s Africa meeting on the “inconvenient truths” influencing Global North and South relations.
Mia has also published widely in books and academic journals. In the book Pandemics and Healthcare, she contributed a chapter about the role of the media in pandemics alongside some of South Africa’s top academics and scientists; for the African Journalism Studies journal, she wrote about the challenges of donor-funded journalism; and in the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, Mia published her research on the impact of politics on the South African media coverage of Aids and in the Brown Journal of World Affairs she analysed the impact of journalists’ relationships with civil society on HIV coverage.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Mia has been the go-to media expert in South Africa and the region. She was the only journalist in the country to secure an interview with US infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci. Her op-ed on the discriminatory and unscientific Omicron variant-related African travel ban was used by civil society at a World Health Organisation council meeting to argue against the bans and the Canadian High Commission in South Africa used it in discussions with their government to explain the devestating impact of the restrictions. She was also a TEDx speaker on how Covid changed news reporting.
Mia began her career at the South African Broadcasting Corporation in 1995, becoming the lead health correspondent while South Africa battled the Aids epidemic. Her 2001 fellowship at the Reuters Institute at Oxford University focused on media coverage of HIV and Aids and the politics of science. In 2003, Mia joined Internews in Nairobi, running a USAID-funded project that trained dozens of radio journalists in HIV reporting. Between 2006 and 2008, she was based in Internews’ Washington DC office, where she managed journalism trainers from the BBC, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, NPR and Voice of America. Following a two-year Knight International Journalism Fellowship in Johannesburg, Mia joined Rhodes University as a senior journalism lecturer, teaching health and gender reporting to graduate students.
Mia holds a bachelor’s degree in speech-language pathology and audiology, and a BA honours and a master’s in journalism from the University of Stellenbosch.