By Tione Andsen, MANA
Government has said community health structures need to be strengthened in order to improve its quality of service delivery amid COVID-19 pandemic.
Deputy director for community health in Ministry of Health, Doreen Ali said this Tuesday during the launch of strengthening of community health structures in response to COVID-19 by World Vision Malawi at Kambola Village in the area of Traditional Authority (TA) Vuso Jere in Ntchisi.
She said the Ministry Community Health Strategy called for the establishment of Community Health Action Groups (CHAGs) to help Health Surveillance Assistants (HSAs) in delivering quality health services.
“We have 48,000 villages where CHAGs are formed and they need to be trained in order to lessen the burden HSAs have in their working areas,” Ali said.
She said with the COVID-19 taking its toll in the country, HSAs have an additional work to do and CHAGs could come in to compliment their efforts.
“We believe the CHAGs have an important role to play in providing relevant messages to their communities in measures to take in order to curb the further spread of the Coronavirus in their respective areas.
Ali disclosed that the Ministry wants to recruit additional 7,000 HSAs to compliment the current 10,000 in order to serve hard-to-reach areas.
She said plans are under way to establish burial committees where they could be trained in handling COVID-19 related deaths.
“With the current state, health workers are bound to be stretched and they cannot be able to handle all COVID-19 burials and this is why we thought of engaging other stakeholders to join in,” Ali said.
World Vision Malawi National Director Hazel Nyathi admitted that COVID-19 has affected the livelihoods of many communities.
She said the disease has affected rich and poor countries and most of development and health delivery services have largely been affected.
“COVID-19 is real and we need not to take chances,” she said. “We have seen prominent people in our society dying and we need to strictly follow COVID-19 measures in order to contain the spread of the virus.
Nyathi said WVM has engaged 481 HSAs in the programme in Kalira Area Programme and have been instrumental in the forming of CHAGs.
She said she was impressed with the work CHAGs were doing and was hoping that they would continue working to the betterment of the communities in face of the pandemic.
Nyathi went on to pledge WVM’s continued support in education, food security and sanitation services amid COVID-19, which has derailed the delivery of essential service to communities.
“Realities of COVID-19 are that it has crippled the effectiveness of providing essential services to the communities. We need to rise to the occasion and this was why we are saying CHAGs need to be strengthened at all cost,” she said.
WVM has been supporting government in areas of education, water and sanitation, food security, nutrition and early childhood development and would continue despite high demands to contain COVID-19 in the country.
“Things should not stop; we need to accept that COVID-19 is with us. We need to have ways and means to make sure that our children are accessing education, health service.
“We have a challenge before us that we need to think outside the box in order to handle the current situation.”
She said WVM supports Ministry of Health in the fight against malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS among others.