By Deodatus Muriya (M&E Desk Officer)
The Monitoring and Evaluation Desk conducted field monitoring visits to “My Health My Right” and Radio Listening Clubs (RLCs) in Chitipa District from 5th to 8th March, 2018. These are community structures under the “Promotion of High Quality, Accountable and Responsive Public Health Service Delivery in Karonga and Chitipa Districts” project being implemented by the Justice and Peace Desk of Karonga Diocese with funding from OSISA.
The project established My Health and My Rights clubs in 24 schools and 12 Radio Listening Clubs (RLC) in the project sites. The school clubs raise awareness on health rights among fellow students through art and mobilise them to take action to defend and protect their health and associated rights.
During the monitoring visit, My Health and My Rights club members displayed much confidence in articulating their roles and rights; an indication that they are well informed as a result of the project. The club members from all groups, apart from Chisasu, expressed that they are now well equipped to stand up and demand their rights from duty bearers (e.g. health workers) in terms of access to timely and appropriate health care. The monitoring team urged the students to apply the knowledge gained in real life situations where right to health is being violated.
As regards the RLCs, one key result that has been recorded is that many community members have stopped sending their children and relatives to traditional healers in preference to health centres. This is a manifestation of behavior change as use of traditional medicine and deliveries at traditional birth attendants were common in the area. This issue was raised by many clubs including Kalowe and Zgangamulima in Wenya and Nthalire, respectively.
The club members also indicated that through their community outreach meetings, most people are now aware of their rights and the right channels to put across their health service delivery complaints, which was not the case before. According to the members, this has improved the quality of treatment in health facilities because health workers are aware that people would not tolerate any form of laxity.
According to the Caritas Secretary, Mr. Mwawi Shaba, the field monitoring visit was organized to interact with the critical structures in the project. While the RLCs champion radio based advocacy by amplifying community health service delivery concerns and encourage active citizenship, My Health My Rights clubs are sowing seeds for grassroots movement of health rights conscious and active generation.
The seemingly contented Mr. Shaba hailed the steady progress the project is making through the clubs. He suggested that school based clubs have to be encouraged to do more through the introduction of some competitions in story writing, quiz, poems and other forms of literary expression.
The monitoring team comprised of Mr. Mwawi Shaba, the Caritas Secretary; Mr. Deodatus Muriya, the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer; Mr. Ephraim Nyirenda, Tuntufye FM Radio person responsible for Justice and Peace programmes and Mr. Charles Kamwambi, the driver on the trip.