Community structures such as volunteers, health promoters, and Village Health Committees play a vital role in ensuring that societies change for the better. These structures advocating for health are slowly driving the health agenda by working collaborate to bring social change in their areas. The use of community structures such as Radio Listening Clubs and Community Theatre groups has proven to increase uptake of health messages in the most hard-to-reach areas.
Government extension workers such as HSAs applaud the structures that the HC4L project used in its project citing that they have lessened their workload as they are faced with challenges to reach as many people as recommended.
Fradwell Katema, Senior Health surveillance Assistant and patron for Mbangala RLc testifies how community sensitizations have helped increase healthy behaviors. According to Data available at Chisepo Health center, the number of women starting ANC below 3 months of pregnancy has increased from 11 in 2019, 49 women in 2020 up to 89 in 2021 following home visits in the 16 villages that the club works in. The number of pregnant women starting ANC late like 5 months above has declined with 36 women in 2019,14 women in 2020 down to 9 in 2021. The number of women delivering at the hospital has also increased with 91 in 2019,96 in 2020 and 106 in the first quarter of 2021.
In terms of nutrition, the club together with their patron has worked tirelessly in ensuring that people are aware and adhere to the six food groups to the extent that the number of children on the OTP/SFP programs is declining as parents are now aware of sourcing age-appropriate food. In 2019 1189 children were enrolled on the program, 2020 102 children while in 2021’s first quarter, only 68 people.
One of the beneficiaries of Mbangala RLCs work has been Osten Baron from Mtaya village in Group Village Headman Mtaya, Dowa. This family like many others did not have a toilet and used the nearest bushed, after the RLC members sensitized the family on the importance of having a pit latrine, he took the time the same month to dig a latrine that his family is now using.
Chairman for Mbangala RLC Josophat Newa adds that the progress being seen is a result of combined efforts of different community stakeholders in their area Such as Village Health Committee members and other health promoters.
Newa says the increase in people seeking quality health care at the hospital, evident by the records has also been a result of their door-to-door sensitizations on prompt health-seeking practices. In 2019, 19379 people attended OPD, In 2020 26768 while this year by May 31802 people have attended as Out Patient Department(OPD).
The club works in 16 villages namely Mtaya,Mbangala,Chisepo1,Chisepo 2,Chiunjira,Nsase,Mphamba,Mtanila,Lapolomzimu,Mtanila,KasiyaPhazi,Simwanjere, Chibanda,Chimamba,Chizanga,and Dzongwe.