Harry Dugmore by Alexa Sedgwich By Annetjie van Wynegaard

Around 60 journalists and media practitioners from health publications and organisations assembled at the Rhodes University’s School of Journalism and Media Studies this past week, for the Discovery Centre for Health Journalism’s symposium on non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

The symposium ran for three days from 29 August and hosted acclaimed speakers from the health industry and medical research professions.

The NCDs are Non-infectious and non-transmissible among people, like diabetes and cancer, and media coverage around them is scarce.

On the first day the symposium’s hashtag, #NCDjourn13, was trending at number one on Twitter all day long.

Students and research staff in the Discovery Centre for Journalism at Rhodes tweeted, wrote stories, took photographs and asked questions about what it means to cover health issues in South Africa.

There was a constant buzz of excitement in the air as the attending journalists live-tweeted the latest statistic from leading health professionals.

Head of Corporate Sustainability at Discovery, Ruth Lewin, joined deputy vice chancellor of Rhodes University, Dr Peter Clayton, and the deputy head of the School of Journalism and Media Studies, Prof. Herman Wasserman, to officially open the symposium.

During the symposium lecturer and researcher in the Centre, Jae Braun, presented her guide on reporting obesity. The guide is one in a series of “Reporting on…” guides that the Centre is producing.

On the second day the 2013 Discovery Health Journalist of the Year and former member of staff at the Centre, Mia Malan, joined Antoinette Oosthuizen, Kerry Cullinan, and Declan Okpalaeke in a panel discussion on emerging models for journalisms that enhance public understanding of medical and health policy.

A parallel panel on exercise as medicine took place in the room next door and was presented by the head of the Department of Human Kinetics and Ergonomics (HKE) at Rhodes, Dr Candice Christie, and PhD candidate Janet Viljoen.

The symposium was peppered with health talk, healthy food, and some ‘green’ field trips.

On the first day everyone embarked on a walking tour of Fort England Psychiatric Hospital where they received an overview of mental health services in the Eastern Cape, and on the last day they went to the Sibuya Game Reserve in Kenton.

For comprehensive speaker profiles, visit the Discovery Centre’s website http://discoverycentre.ru.ac.za/