Malawi government says it will continue putting Primary Health Care as a priority pointing out if the country does well at community level, the hospitals will not be overburdened.
Ministry of Health, Khumbize Chiponda said this at the launch of the first ever National Community Health Day where she highlighted Primary Health Care will help to save on budgets and be able to use those resources in other important developmental activities.
Chiponda explained the commemoration of the day will raise awareness about the importance of Community Health in Malawi and to express appreciation for the role Community Health Workers and other stakeholders are playing and the impact being made across the health delivery system.
"Government through the Ministry of Health is on a mission to ensure quality, integrated community health services are affordable, culturally acceptable, scientifically appropriate, and accessible to every household through community participation in order to promote health and contribute to the socio-economic status of all people in Malawi.
"In order to achieve this, the Government is implementing this National community Health Strategy which provides policy guidance to all stakeholders in the implementation of community health in Malawi. Further, the Government has reviewed the National Acceleration Community Health Roadmap which depicts key priorities for community health in Malawi to further address the community health challenges."
The Minister disclosed they have put in place several guidelines, including community health structures, to guide implementation of Community Health services. and developed a one-year Health Surveillance Assistant Training Curriculum.
"We have recruited additional Community health workers; over about 2000 HSAs have been recruited and pre-service trainings of these are in progress. Constructed 50 Health Posts and 100 housing units for community health workers with support from Malawi Redcross Society, Embassy of Iceland and JTI.
She said they are currently planning on construction of 55 Health with support from the Global Fund. Further she said they have procured 70 motorcycles and over 2,400 durable bicycles for community health workers to strengthen community health transport system.
"There is development of an Integrated community health information system and we now have Malawi’s first ever Community Health Ambassador for Malawi to support advocacy on community health. We have in place Community COVID-19 prevention and control measures/response."
These achievements are yet to meet the standards set among which include closing the human resource gap by hiring over 10,000 additional Health Surveillance assistants as well as increasing numbers of Assistant Environmental Health Officers, Community Health Nurses, and Community Midwife Assistants, health financing by improving integration, mobilization, efficiency and effectiveness of resources.
Chiponda said they need to close overall financing gap of over $120m to implement Primary Health Care services, construction of about 900 Health Posts and 1800 Community Health Worker housing units in hard-to reach areas, putting in place an Integrated Community Health Information System to harmonize reporting and integrate all data into DHIS2.
This development comes after it all started in July 2017 with the launch of the 1st ever National Community Health Strategy which aimed at addressing critical challenges such as access to health care services especially to communities residing in hard-to-reach areas.