Scaling Up the First Government-run Health Hotline in Africa

June 16, 2022

Scaling Up the First Government-run Health Hotline in Africa

Chipatala Cha Pa Foni (CCPF or Health Center by Phone) is the first government-run national health and nutrition hotline in Africa and is accessible to more than 18 million people. 

Since 2017, under ONSE, the CCPF has grown to cover all of Malawi, expanded its staff, and increased its scope and the number of languages offered. The CCPF moved its main operations to Lilongwe and transitioned all staff and operations to the Malawi government. 

The CCPF is a national toll-free health hotline. It is operated by the Ministry of Health and staffed by trained health workers who provide health information 24 hours a day. The CCPF is a critical part of Malawi’s health system and provides access to health advice privately and without the need for individuals to travel to health facilities. 

Originally designed to share information on maternal health, the CCPF now handles questions from callers of all ages; 45% of callers are female and 55% are male. Half of all calls relate to health concerns while the other half are from healthy clients who have general questions about preventive care. 

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the MalawiGovernment adopted the CCPF as one of the major channels for COVID-19 information. ONSE’s support enabled the CCPF to conduct risk communication and community engagement activities, especially through support for staffing at the call center. 

Patience Tchongwe, the CCPF supervisor, played a critical role in guiding and suppor ting the CCPF’s daily operations, including training new hotline workers. Tchongwe prepared her team for the move to Lilongwe and the national scale-up of the CCPF. 

Tchongwe led the training of additional nurses and clinicians required for the expanded call center and increased the number of hotline workers from 10 to 30 to accommodate the nationwide 24-hour service in multiple languages. 

“Our staff very much enjoy the new space. Partners like ONSE, Air tel, and others have made this transition possible, ensuring that we have the infrastructure needed to help people nationwide at the last mile, giving them the timely and accurate health information they need to make informed health-seeking decisions.”

Patience Tchongwe, CCPF Supervisor