Jul 20, 2018 Last Updated 10:40 AM, Jul 19, 2018
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Access to portable clean water and sanitary facilities remains a challenge for people of Karonga district.

The development poses a threat to people’s health as the likelihood of continued cholera outbreaks remains high.

Karonga is one of the 13 districts in Malawi that were hit by cholera for about six months from November 2017.

The district registered 347 cholera cases and seven deaths were recorded.

Statistics indicate that Lilongwe surpassed Karonga with 385 cases and 18 deaths from the disease.

According to the District Environmental Health Officer, about 20% of people in the Karonga have no access to portable clean water while 30% have no access to sanitary facilities such as pit latrines. Lack thereof, being some of the contributing factors to the spread of cholera.

Luis Tukula said the inaccessibility to safe water and sanitary facilities is not particularly confined to a particular geographical area but the problem is relatively prominent in areas along Lake Malawi.

“And these areas without access to safe water and sanitary facilities were among those severely hit by cholera outbreak that recently affected the district,” Tukula told Capital FM.

“One of the reasons is sandy soils. It is impossible to drill boreholes in sandy soils, the other reason is accessibility, borehole drilling machines cannot be taken to other areas because they are impassable,” he said.

He added, “Similar to latrines, some communities, especially along the lake, it's partly due to sandy soils. Latrines easily collapse during rainy season; the other reason is perennial floods which wash away pit latrines.”

Apart from inaccessibility to portable water and sanitary facilities, the district is also facing negative behaviour from community members, as some communities despite having access are not making use of the access they have, a behaviour Tukula said they are working on changing.

“There is negative behaviour with other people preferring lake water even if they have access to safe water, claiming lake water is more palatable, the same applies to use of pit latrines.”

“But slowly things are changing. People are being transformed, behaviour wise through Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) we are currently implementing across the district,” he said.

“Like in the case of latrines, currently no Traditional Authority has been declared ODF. However, all villages have so far been triggered and follow-ups are in progress, sporadic villages have achieved ODF status so far but our target is Traditional Authority level,” said the District Environmental Officer.

The Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre continues to register increased cases of stroke.

The development has been revealed through a study conducted by an international health expert in Malawi who also works as a lecturer in Neurology at the University of Liverpool.

A study titled Looking at the Risk Factors for Stroke in Malawi reveals that Hypertension is a leading cause of the disease among the adults and HIV is the main cause in the younger generation.

In Malawi, five people are admitted at the hospital weekly with stroke and a majority of such patients die within six months of starting treatment due to poor management.

Chrissy Chiwalo is one of the stroke patients currently admitted at the Kachere Rehabilitation Unit in Blantyre.

Stroke patient, Chrissy Chiwalo admitted at Kachere Rehabilitation Unit in the city told Capital FM that the stroke she had left the left side of her body immobile.

She is currently unemployed as she lost her job as a nurse.

Laura Benjamin a lecturer in Neurology at the University of Liverpool said establishing a Stroke Unit at Queens will help in the management of such cases.

“We have met with a team from the hospital and have acquired funding, the actual works of the department can be done in a space of three months so we are hopeful that it will all work out,” Benjamin added.

A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of your brain is interrupted or severely reduced, depriving brain tissue of oxygen and nutrients. Within minutes, brain cells begin to die.

Representatives of maternal health program being implemented in Malawi’s four districts have disclosed to have so far spent over MK2 billion.

This follows provision of cash bonuses to expectant women, health workers, infrastructure development as well as procurement of medical supplies to participating health facilities.

The revelation comes as the Malawi government under Ministry of Health is implementing a maternal health program with financial support from the governments of Norway and.

Speaking to Capital FM, the Deputy Program Director revealed that so far over 100, 000 expectant women have benefited in the conditional cash transfer with over MK600 million disbursed to them.

Reagan Kaluluma further adds that money totaling to MK849 Million has been spent on infrastructure expenses in all the four districts.

He however disclosed the program still faces constraints pointing out staff attrition which is high, delay in infrastructure and procurement of medical equipment among others.

“Some communities do not understand the target criteria hence create the myth that the money is associated with spiritualism,” added Kaluluma

The project dubbed Results Based Financing for Maternal and Neonatal Health (RBF4MNH) is being implemented in 33 health facilities in Ntcheu, Dedza, Mchinji and Balaka.

It is aimed at contributing to the reduction of maternal and neonatal deaths in the impact districts.

This is so through provision of incentives inform of cash bonus to staff as well conditional cash transfer to expectant women in a bid to increase hospital deliveries.

Apart from that, the program also procures medical equipment besides infrastructure development to benefiting health facilities in a bid to improve quality health care.

In a quest to promote high quality, accountable and responsive public health service delivery, the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) of Karonga diocese of the Catholic Church is implementing a one year health governance project in the northern districts of Karonga and Chitipa.

The CCJP has noted with great concern that the health sector in the country is facing a number of challenges manifested in meager allocation of resources which are further abused poor quality and inaccessible health services and limited access to information, contrary to the Abuja Declaration.

According to the CCJP Desk Officer, the project aims at strengthening citizen’s participation in health governance and decision-making in six traditional authorities in Chitipa and Karonga.

Apart from that it will also promote access to budgetary, policy information so to improve transparency and accountability in the health sector.

Louis Nkhata said, “We are going to facilitate the establishment of already existing health sector and revamp NGO response coordination committees in Chitipa and Karonga and to engage a consultant to review NGO and private sector health resources, allocation, utilization and results”.

Nkhata further explained that among other activities to achieve the project goal, they will also facilitate the establishment of secondary school based ‘My health, My right’ clubs in order to raise awareness on health rights among school-going youth who may in turn help support community awareness exhibitions.

He said, “This will be made possible by conducting district and inter-district youth conferences to establish a youth movement for health to be dubbed ‘Youth for Health in order to amplify the voice of young people in health governance”. 

the CCJP is implementing a second phase of Health Governance project with funding from Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) to the tune of US$ 120,000 which is about MK85 million.

This is in the areas of T/As Wasambo, Kyungu and Kilupula in Karonga district and in T/As Mwenewenya, Nthalire and Misuku in Chitipa district.

An institution is expected to be established in Malawi to track the accreditation of all health care workers.

The public has been expressing concern with the poor health care delivery in the country, particularly in public hospitals.

In most of these hospitals, people wait for hours before being assisted and are in some cases, forced to buy drugs from pharmacies.

Speaking to Capital FM, Douglas Lungu who is President of the Society of Medical Doctors in Malawi (SMD) disclosed that the institution will help lessen the challenges that arise between practitioners and patients in hospitals.

Meanwhile, the 7th annual Medical and Scientific Conference that seeks to improve health care delivery in public hospitals is under way in Mangochi.

The conference has brought together doctors from across the country and sub-Saharan Africa.

The Society of Medical Doctors was established with the aim of providing a vehicle through which doctors can support the government and other players in their efforts to improve the delivery of health care in Malawi.  

In the country, the model of health care delivery it is assumed that the medical doctors will provide leadership in the provision of quality care and thereby ensure the credibility of medical care in Malawi.

So far the efforts by the medical doctors have been commendable, but could have more impact if they had a collective voice.

The SMD is there to provide a voice for doctors and facilitate their participation in and create an interface with government, the public and the health profession.

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