Flashbacks: Cholera- a battle well fought together

Flashbacks: Cholera- a battle well fought together

Flashbacks: Cholera- a battle well fought together
Flashbacks: Cholera- a battle well fought together

World Health Organization (WHO) - Malawi

In line with the President of Malawi’s launch of “Tithetse kolera campaign”, RCCE integrated community-based interventions designed by Ministry of Health with support from the World Health Organization (WHO) to reduce cholera cases and deaths in the communities. 

“WHO appreciates government’s efforts to contain the outbreak and we will continue to work with partners to implement the strategies that have been outlined in the End Cholera Campaign,” said Dr Neema Rusibamayila Kimambo, WHO Representative in Malawi.

WHO continues to facilitate behaviour change targeting hot spot districts such as Balaka, Chikwava, Blantyre, Machinga, Mangochi, Nsanje, and Lilongwe. Ministry of Health with support from WHO engaged local leaders as identified trusted sources of information to communicate cholera to the community. What is unique is that during the community leader’s engagement meetings, WHO  supported local leaders to employ a community visioning-bottom-up approach where they convened to conduct community conversations to address issues affecting them. Key output from the local leader’s engagement meetings was the development of  multisectoral community action plans to end cholera in their communities.

WHO supported Ministry of Health to conduct community leaders’ engagement meetings with 5,374 local leaders that comprises of political, religious, education, block and market, and traditional community leaders that includes chiefs, village heads and councilors from the various hotspot areas across affected districts.

The local leaders have been instrumental to distribute risk communication materials and messages IEC materials through trusted channels and trusted, influential voices to at-risk communities on preventative, protective and care-seeking behaviours.

“Communities have solutions to their problems if only there are engaged as active partners in response and not beneficiaries.  In order to strengthen community resilience, WHO engaged in capacity development of the community health workforce including community leaders to empower and build their capacity to convey correct and timely information of public health threats, ”said Denford Chuma, who is part of the WHO Cholera Incident Management Systems as Team Lead for Risk Communication and Community Engagement in Malawi.

Some of the key issues mentioned by the local leaders highlighted that most cholera deaths were as a result of delayed health seeking behavior where most communities’ members visited the hospital when they are heavily dehydrated.  Consequently, traditional leader’s set-up bi laws to enforce households to have good sanitation facilities and end harmful social norms that could likely spread cholera. Religious and political leaders incorporated cholera messaging during their community meetings.

The engagement of local leaders working with Health Surveillance Assistants in the cholera outbreak contributed to the reduction of harmful social norms, cholera cases and deaths in Malawi through health education provided to communities reaching and bi-laws introduced to ensure communities report to the nearest health facilities for any suspected cases,” reported a senior HSA from St Gabriel’s hospital in Lilongwe, Malawi.

The bi laws introduced by the local leaders have been instrumental ensuring the communities have adequate knowledge on cholera, how it is prevented and adhere to the Ministry of health guidelines to prevent cholera in the communities and have contributed significantly to reduction in cases and community deaths reported the senior HSA.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of World Health Organization (WHO) – Malawi.