The Japan Tobacco International JTI has handed over to the Ministry of Health 15 village clinics worth K650 million.
A symbolic handover ceremony took place at Sawuzawana village clinic in Lilongwe where people were walking a distance of about 15 kilometers to access health care services.
Traditional Authority bwatalika of Sawuzawana village could not hide her joy with the provision of the clinic as she was making her speech, adding that they will make sure the facility is well taken care of.
All 15 clinics in the districts of Rumphi, Mzimba, Kasungu, Mchinji, Dowa Lilongwe and Zomba were constructed using coal ash blocks, which is a waste product from the company’s factory operations.
The company decide to recycle the waste as it becomes an environmental hazard if carelessly dumped, however the blocks are certified fit for human habitation.
Limbani Kakhome JTI Corporate Affairs Director indicates that these facilities will improve access to health for up to 75 thousand people by reducing the distance they cover to reach a health facility.
“In the past few years, we have observed that most of our grower communities are reporting challenges with access to health facilities, citing long distances, poor infrastructure and drug stock outs of medical suppliers and as a company we decide to respond to this,” Kakhome added.
Sanderson Kuyeli Director for Planning in the Ministry of Health, commends the gesture from JTI adding that it directly complements government’s efforts in improving access to health services in the country.
According to kuyeli, the Ministry will engage other stakeholders to provide health personnel housing which is another critical requirement for the clinics.
“We will be running these clinics including providing resources such as health personnel and medical supplies,” Kuyeli points out.
The village clinics were constructed with solar water systems, solar electricity, medical equipment, basic furniture and startup medical suppliers.
JTI has been operating in the country since 2009 with a core Mission of supporting growers to produce quality leaf of tobacco for business.