Through its Health Communication for Life (HC4L) project, Creative Centre for Community Mobilization (CRECCOM) continues to disseminate health information in Lilongwe, Dowa, Ntcheu, Kasungu, Balaka, Zomba, Machinga, Mulanje, Mchinji, and Mangochi districts to increase adoption of health-seeking behaviors among Malawians in the districts.
Among other activities being implemented namely targeting home visits to pregnant couples and lactating mothers using the wheel of life-saving practices, and targeting community sensitization meetings to reach pregnant couples, adolescents as well as caretakers of under-five children. All these activities are planned and conducted by community structures including Radio Listening Clubs (RLCs) and Community Theatre Groups which were revamped and established by CRECCOM, which is a sub-contractor in the Consortium of key project implementers primed by FHI360.
Mulanje district is one of the 28 districts in Malawi and it is located in the southern region of the country. Traditional Authority (T/A) Mabuka is one of the TAs in the district which covers many villages in the district and one of them Chiwaya village where Anne Konala, 27, exists.
Anne is a mother of 3 children (2 boys and 1 girl aged 10, 5, and 1 year respectively from the oldest to the youngest. She is one of the beneficiaries of Moyo ndi Mpamba campaign under the Health Communication for Life (HC4L) project primed by FHI360.
In 2019, Anne was reached out by Thafia Community Theatre Group (CTG) at her house together with her husband Patrick Sungambewu, 29, on Moyo ndi Mpamba campaign.
During that time, Anne was only 3-month-old pregnant with her last-born baby who is now 1 year old. She said that she did not know the exact time to go for Antenatal Care (ANC) services.
“I was in my third month of pregnancy of my 3rd born child but did not even go for ANC services as I was waiting to go to the clinic on the 4th month of the pregnancy after following what cultural beliefs says,” said Anne.
According to the chairperson of Thafia CTG, Jimmy Lijeda, said that they identified Anne and showed her the Wheel of Life Saving Practices, taught her on health practices she needed to follow to ensure the good health of the child and the mother.
“We advised her to start going for ANC service during the same month which we identified her as one of the beneficiaries of the wheel. This is because she was on the third month of her pregnancy,” said Jimmy.
Adding to that, Jimy said that Thafia RLC encourages Anne with her husband to be going together at the clinic for ANC service by informing the husband of the importance of going to the clinic together with his wife.
“Most couples or men see the act of going to the clinic for ANC service as a duty of a woman only since she is the one who carries the pregnancy and not the man. What they do not know is that when both the man and the woman go for ANC service at a hospital, they learn a lot and they tend to remind each other of different pieces of advice they receive at the clinic when one forgets. Also, this is why we encouraged Anne’s family to be escorting each other to the clinic,” said Jimmy
Anne said that from the time she was pregnant and after the baby was born, Anne together with her husband Patrick have been going to Milonde Health Centre for ANC service and from the health center, they have been able to receive a lot of health information that they did not know.
“I and my husband have learned a lot of health-related topics by going for ANC services at the health center. We can get tested for different diseases that can harm our bodies and how to prevent them. Also, we can receive preventive measures against COVID-19 of which we were unaware of. Some of the diseases that we have been informed on include HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis,” said Anne.
Apart from going for ANC service, Anne said that Thafia CTG also taught her family about eating food that possesses six groups of food nutrients. Before the existence of Thafia RLC in their lives, Anne said that her family used to eat different food that is not rich in all the food nutrients.
“With the coming in of Thafia CTG, we have learned a lot about eating food that has six groups of food nutrients and their function to the unborn baby and the family. Such groups of food nutrients include carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals, water, and vitamin,” said Anne.
Anne said that they used to eat food that lacked three or four groups of food nutrients.
She said, “ We could eat food that possesses carbohydrates and vitamins only in a day. After learning about the six groups of food nutrients and their functions in our body, we do try to take in food that is rich in all the food nutrients every which was a very big problem in our family. For example; we could only eat Nsima with beans for the whole week”
Anne said that the intake of food that is rich in six groups of food nutrients surprised her family after seeing an improvement in some Kilograms (kgs) from her child.
“After giving birth to my last child, I named her Shalom and after going to Milonde health center she weighed 6.5 kg and every time I went with the baby together with my husband, the number of kgs kept on rising. Now my baby is 1 year only and weighs 11 kgs,” said Anne.
The family of Anne and Patrick also said that at first, they did not have a proper toilet as they used the bushes around their house and sometimes their neighbor’s toilets to help themselves but this all changed when Thafia RLC conducted a visit to their house under Moyo ndi Mpamba campaign and oriented them on the Wheel of Life Saving Practices. They were taught about the dangers of using the same toilets with their neighbors for urinating and defecating.
“We were taught that urinating and defecating in bushes and other people’s toilets risks the act of cholera and other health-related diseases in affecting them. We built our toilet and we do practice good health habits and hygiene practices such as washing hands with clean water and soap after visiting the toilet. The act of using the bushes and other people’s toilets is now history to us and the owners of the toilets,” narrated Anne