Even as we battle COVID-19, there are new challenges in our ongoing struggle to eradicate malaria.The pandemic is causing major disruptions in health services due to lockdowns, budget crunches, and anxious health workers. Imperial College London estimates that malaria deaths over the next five years may increase by up to 36%. We’re also fighting complacency.
Health workers not only need water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services to prevent the spread of COVID-19 right now but also to provide safe essential health services every day. But 25% of health facilities around the world lack basic water services. One in six facilities doesn’t have hand hygiene services, such as soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub, available at points of care. And health workers in facilities in sub-Saharan Africa face even greater WASH challenges.Two frontline health workers—Margaret Odera and Dr. Ann Phoya—recently called for improved WASH services during an event alongside the 75th United Nations General Assembly. Read on to find out what it’s like to be a health worker on the frontlines without WASH and the steps they are taking to access and improve WASH in Kenya and Malawi.
Until recently, “PPE” was an obscure acronym for many people, but now it has become a vital global commodity. Today, with the realities of COVID-19, health workers around the world are experiencing a troubling shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)—a mix of items including gloves, mask, aprons, and goggles that can help prevent disease transmission in health care settings. This shortage puts health workers in harm's way while trying to respond to the unrelenting COVID-19 pandemic.
Swift and effective action to address the COVID-19 pandemic has required countries to engage in an all hands on deck approach. We recently asked our colleagues on the frontlines in Malawi and Kenya, Dr. Ann Phoya and Dr. Ndinda Kusu, to share how their teams are working with all sectors of society to scale up preparedness and response measures, strengthen capacities and systems to meet the challenge of COVID-19, and help maintain uninterrupted essential health services.
Program seeds providers in high-density health centerIn July, 23-year old Esther walked a fair distance to Area 18, a health center in Malawi’s Lilongwe District, since no family planning services were available in her area. She has one child and wants to wait before having a second. At the health center, Esther joined a group counseling session where all family planning methods were presented. Afterwards, during individual counseling, she shared her desire to wait at least five years before becoming pregnant.
"There is a great joy when the family comes back to hospital wanting to show that their less than 1500g baby has now grown into a healthy newborn with no trace that they were premature. Sometimes we meet parents in the market place who keep appreciating our efforts in saving their premature babies...
This story was originally published by Deliver for GoodMany women are the bedrock of families yet tend to lack access to and control over resources to ensure a diverse and nutritious diet before, during, and after pregnancy. Luckily, gender sensitive nutrition programming that is integrated with MNCH and reproductive health activities can deliver healthier lives for women, their children, and their families.Violet, a young mother living in Karonga district in central Malawi, delivered her first baby at a community hospital in September.
By Matthew Ziba
Many health facilities across Malawi don’t have enough trained pharmacy staff to adequately manage stock and dispense medicines. These tasks often fall on health care providers, who already have many other responsibilities, namely caring for patients. In some cases, even a ground laborer or a security guard—who may have no training in pharmacy management—must step in to help.
Photos by: Samy Rakotoniaina/MSH
In Malawi, over 80% of people live in rural areas. For many (10%), the nearest health center is more than 8 kilometers (5 miles) away, making it difficult to access health care regularly. The USAID-funded Organized Network of Services for Everyone’s (ONSE) Health Activity, led by Management Sciences for Health, works to improve quality and access to care in rural communities.
Elimase Kamanga is a mother, a midwife for more than 15 years, and the Senior Technical Advisor for Maternal and Newborn Health for the USAID-funded Organized Network of Services for Everyone’s (ONSE) Health Activity, led by MSH. Chisomo Mdalla, ONSE’s Chief Communications and Knowledge Exchange Officer, talked with Kamanga about her work to improve the quality of care for mothers and newborns in Malawi. This interview was edited for length and clarity.
Elimase, can you tell us about how you got to where you are today?
As the globe marks World Water Day on March 22, the Organized Network of Services for Everyone’s Health (ONSE) Activity has been supporting the Government of Malawi in responding to a months-long cholera epidemic.ONSE, funded by the United States Agency for International Development and led by Management Sciences for Health (MSH), works in Malawi to reduce maternal, newborn, and child morbidity and mortality by focusing on health system strengthening; family planning and reproductive health; maternal, newborn, and child health; malaria; and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH).The
After more than 15 years working on women’s health and development issues, I feel hopeful as the growing movement for women’s rights brings us closer to a breakthrough. Everyday, more women around the world -- from Madagascar to Mexico -- are emerging as leaders. They are organizing and demanding justice, equality, and the full realization of their fundamental human rights.
It is early afternoon in the village of Kanjuwale at the foot of Nguluyanawambe Mountain in central Malawi. Charlene Chisema, a community mobilization officer, asks a group of local women about best antenatal care (ANC) practices.
“It should start early – in the first months,” said one woman.
“You need four visits,” said another.
“Great!” said Chisema, who works with the Organized Network of Services for Everyone’s (ONSE) Health Activity. “How many ANC visits did you all have during your last pregnancy?”