Pulitzer Center Update March 30, 2023

Webinar Recording: Meredith Wadman on Changes in South African Children’s Health After Apartheid


While Apartheid no longer governs, Black children's health remains precarious.

Meredith Wadman, a Pulitzer Center grantee and senior reporter at Science Magazine, discussed Black South African children's health at George Washington University's Milken Institute School of Public Health.

The event, held on March 23, 2023, was part of the Department of Global Health’s Research & Practice Seminars. Wadman's talk was titled “Small Victories: Black Children’s Health in South Africa—Then and Now.” It was held in person and streamed live on Zoom.

“[It’s been] a long way traveled for South African pediatric health and a long way to go,” said Wadman.

Wadman has been reporting on medical science for 25 years. She is the author of The Vaccine Race: Science, Politics, and the Human Costs of Defeating Disease (Viking, 2017). 

She has reported on public health with support from the Pulitzer Center since the beginning of the pandemic for her project The Science of COVID-19. Her stories made sense of the virus—from its effects on the body, to vaccine development—at a time when it was still misunderstood.

Wadman's past inspired her most recent project. In 1986, she was a visiting medical student studying pediatrics at a major Black hospital in Durban, South Africa. There, she made a career change to journalism after seeing the poor conditions for Black children. She returned to South Africa in 2022 to report for the project Black Children’s Health in South Africa 30 Years After Apartheid. Child mortality has improved since her first visit, but Black South African children are still at greater risk than their white peers. Wadman’s reporting tackles public health as well as the social disparities that affect health outcomes.