Translate page with Google

Pulitzer Center Update April 7, 2023

Building a Healthier and More Equitable World

A pregnant person holds their swollen womb

Cláudia Collucci investigates Brazil's struggling health care system and the tragedy of maternal...

In the 31st week of pregnancy, Gennis, 22, from Venezuela, waits for her first prenatal consultation at a health center in Boa Vista, Roraima. Image by Henrique Santana/Folhapress. Brazil, 2023.

Progress and Regression: The Pendulum of Health Inequities

You’d think that the COVID-19 pandemic was horrific enough to make wider access to health care and vaccines a global priority. But that’s not the case, as we’ve seen in a world torn by political divisions, distrust, and entrenched inequality.

Fortunately, on World Health Day, the Pulitzer Center can point to journalism we’re supporting worldwide that is exposing regression in health care gains as well as solutions to improve trust and access.
In the United States, PBS NewsHour and the Global Health Reporting Center are rolling out a series, Rural Rx, this month. The project is investigating how health care, including basic maternity care, has been hollowed out and is failing to keep up with needs in rural America.
In Brazil, we supported Folha de S.Paulo’s recent bilingual series The Tragedy of Maternal Mortality in Brazil, which includes a devastating video documentary subtitled in English.

Brazil was making significant gains in reducing maternal deaths before the pandemic. But Folha staff reporter Cláudia Collucci's meticulous reporting for Brazil’s biggest newspaper shows declining government investment has resulted in death rates as high today as they were 25 years ago. Preventable problems such as high blood pressure and infections have overtaken COVID-19 as causes. Black and rural women are dying disproportionately.

Another Brazilian journalist, staff writer Chloé Pinheiro of Veja Saúde magazine, is pursuing her own project: Brazil: The New Stronghold of the Antivax Movement.

Pinheiro’s first piece, featured in March on the magazine cover, chronicles how neglect and disinformation have spread distrust in vaccines. Brazil was once a global leader in vaccination. Today, it’s among the 10 countries in the world with the greatest number of children unprotected from measles. COVID-19 vaccines are still widely unavailable for young children.
The good news is that these stories are having an impact. Brazilian health officials are using the Veja Saúde story in training sessions. Newly elected political leaders are publicly urging reforms.

Folha’s maternal health stories are also stirring calls for better care. An internet tool that Folha reported helps monitor patients and prevents maternal deaths was going to be defunded. That decision was reversed after the Folha series was published.
Not least, the Pulitzer Center is also supporting vital health reporting across countries in Africa, where problems stemming from a legacy of colonialism and botched medical experimentation on Africans pose barriers. 

One instructive new piece is Nigerian reporter Nurudeen Akewushola’s "From Rejection to Advocacy: How Religious Clerics Helped To Drive High COVID-19 Vaccination in Kano."

Another is Jacob Kushner and Kang-Chun Cheng’s “The Long Shadow of COVID-19 Myths,” reported out of North Africa.

These stories provide valuable lessons for global health organizations to consider.



Vaccine Inequity,” a podcast episode from Big Picture Science with Pulitzer Center grantee Amy Maxmen, has been nominated for a Webby People’s Voice Award.

In the episode, Maxmen shares findings from her reporting in southern Africa about a WHO project to combat vaccine inequity. She also explores the role of large pharmaceutical companies in vaccine distribution.

Voting for the Webby People’s Voice Awards is open to the public and ends on April 20. To vote, click here

This message first appeared in the April 7, 2023, edition of the Pulitzer Center's weekly newsletter. Subscribe today.

Click here to read the full newsletter.


global health reporting initiative


Global Health Inequities

Global Health Inequities


navy halftone illustration of a female doctor with her arms crossed


Health Inequities

Health Inequities