Family health and hygiene is largely dependent on adequate availability of drinking water and proper sanitation. Therefore, there is a direct relationship between water, sanitation and health. Consumption of unsafe drinking water, improper environmental sanitation and lack of personal and food hygiene have been major causes of many diseases in developing countries and Malawi is no exception to this. Good hygiene lowers risks of diseases and illnesses that are commonly spread through viruses and bacteria. Sanitation is one of the basic determinants of quality of life and human development. A healthy family has the strength and ability to meet health needs and to be free from health problems.
In order to increase the demand for health seeking behaviors among the local communities, Creative Centre for Community Mobilization(CRECCOM) through the Health Communication for Life(HC4L) Project is working with local structures which are CommunityTheatre Groups(CTGs) and Radio listening Clubs(RLCs) to disseminate messages on different health issues.
These clubs conduct community dialogue sessions, outreach activities and home visits focusing on messages that tackle Water, Sanitation and Hygiene(WASH), Malaria, Family planning,Nutrition, Maternal, Neonatal Child Health(MNCH) and Social Accountability.
The HC4L Project is being implemented in the ten districts of Mchinji, Kasungu, Dowa, Lilongwe, Ntcheu, Machinga, Zomba, Mulanje, Mangochi and Balaka. In Ntcheu district, the Project has 10 RLCs and 4 CTGs working. The positive impacts of these clubs are seen through the number of people that have adopted various health seeking behaviors after being sensitized by the clubs. These clubs also utilize the wheel of life’s saving practices that they distribute to the caretakers of under -2 children and pregnant couples. The wheel enables its beneficiaries to follow and also the facilitators to be able to track the adoption of health seeking behaviors at household level. The wheel further acts as a constant reminder to the beneficiaries on what behaviors will lead them to living a healthy life.
Masoalikuka RLC which is found in T/A Ganya in Ntcheu District is one of the local structures that are fully utilizing the wheel during their interactions with community members especially targeting those that are caretakers of under 2 children and pregnant couples. After receiving 20 wheels from the HC4L Project, the members of Masoalikuka identified households that have their target beneficiaries. “After receiving the wheel and being trained on how to use it, we knew that it will be essential for the home visits, “explained Anne Misoya who is a facilitator for the club.
The benefitsof the wheel of lifesaving in T/A Ganya are evident in Memory Maloya who is a caretaker of a 1 year, 1-month old child. The mother of two, whose husband stays in Blantyre forwork says the wheel has changed her perspective on health issues.
. “Before being sensitized using the wheel, I never used to have a toilet and handwashing facility of my own and I used to rely on my neighbor’s toilet but the wheel helped me to understand the essence of having a toilet of my own’, says Memory. She further explained that the wheel also helped her to learn about the importance of starting ANC early because she was 6months pregnant by the time she was visited by the club members and yet she had not yet started her ANC. After the visit, she went to start her ANC at Mphepozinai health center where she was given a free mosquito net.
During the follow-up home visits that Masoalikuka RLC made to Memory Maloyas home, they found that the seed they planted bore fruit as she had constructed a toilet and hand washing facility for her home. Furthermore, she continued with her ANC up until her pregnancy was full-term and she gave birth to a healthy baby boy named Arnold Maloya at Mphepozinai health center. She continues to utilize the knowledge she got from the wheel by ensuring that her child gets all the required immunizations and also prepares nutritious meals for her children.
“Ever since the HC4L Project began here at T/A Ganyas area, a lot of households have adopted health seeking behaviors such as sleeping under mosquito nets each night whereby 8 out of 10 households have and use mosquito nets to prevent Malaria”, says Felix Kapalamula who is the secretary for Masoalikuka RLC. Despite the COVID 19 pandemic that is amongst us, the club still continues meeting each Sunday afternoon to discuss club plans and activities. They also continue to conduct at least 4 home visits per month using the wheel.