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In an effort to assist in healthcare services delivery in Karonga, the Karonga Diocese on 5th April 2024 made a donation of hospital beds, mattresses, syringes and face shields to Karonga District Hospital (KDH). The Health Desk Officer (HDO), Mr. Joseph Kimangila represented the Diocese in the handover ceremony where the items were received by the Director for Health and Social Services (DHSS), Mr. David Sibale.

Kimangira (R) handing over the medical equipment and supplies to DHSS Sibale.

Speaking on behalf of Karonga Diocese, Mr. Kimangila highlighted the continued commitment of the Diocese in assisting communities in the three districts of Rumphi Karonga and Chitipa in matters of healthcare. “The Bishop of the Karonga Diocese Martin Anwel Mtumbuka is committed to ensuring that the people in the Diocese are of good health. After receiving a donation of the medical equipment supplies from Cross Catholic Outreach (CCO) in the United States of America, the Bishop thought it wise to also share with others hence the donation to KDH,” Kimangila stated.

The DHSS expressed gratitude towards the Diocese for the donation stating that; “The institution is facing a problem of inadequacy of various medical equipment and supplies. The beds, masks, syringes and needles will assist in saving costs to buy such items for KDH”. He also added that the general public should know that  Karonga Diocese and the Ministry of Health are good partners and they work together in various ways citing the Covid-19 pandemic during which the Diocese also made a donation of various items. Mr. Sibale also assured the Diocese of continued collaboration from the Ministry of Health.

KDH has received ten adjustable hospital beds and mattresses, forty cartons of face shields, needles and syringes. Other equipment that Karonga Diocese received have been distributed among its health facilities including St. Cynthia Health Center, St. Clara Health Center and the recently constructed Health Center located in Zambwe area, all in Chitipa district.

By Noel Chatepa.

File Photo: A cross section of participants during the monitoring exercise
Karonga Diocese Health Desk conducts review and mentorship meetings for TB community volunteers in Karonga and Chitipa District

By Vincent Shaba

The Health Desk conducted review and mentorship of volunteers in Chitipa and Karonga Districts under a community TB care project entitled Invest for impact against TB/HIV. Meetings took place from the 23rd of March this year.

The purpose of these meetings was to monitor progress of activities including community education of TB, sputum sample collection and supporting of patients on TB treatment.

During the meetings, project staff took an opportunity to mentor volunteers. Project staff also monitor data collection tools such as the community presumptive TB register, monthly report form and others to ensure that they are correctly filled. Project staff from the Diocese work in partnership with Ministry of Health (MoH) health workers specifically The District Environmental Health Officer (DEHO) and the District TB Officer (DTO). At community level, TB Focal persons from health facilities and community HSAs support volunteers in their day to day operation.

File Photo: A cross section of participants during the monitoring exercise
File Photo: A cross section of participants during the monitoring exercise

The goal of this project is to reduce illness and deaths from TB through strengthening TB activities at Community level. Specifically, the project intends to increase the number of TB cases diagnosed and to increase number of patients treated for TB confirmed positive.

This project is funded by Global Fund through Actionaid (Malawi) and Episcopal conference of Malawi (ECM). During this first quarter review meetings, 10 sputum collection points in Chitipa and 8 in Karonga were visited. Generally it was noted that there is slow progress of activities since mid-last year. Contributing factors include low motivation of volunteer due to few volunteers participating in review meetings, wearing out of personal protective equipment and enablers. Long distance with poor transport means further impede volunteer movement to health facilities. This has resulted in low yield of presumptive cases as well as cases confirmed positive.  

Actionaid the principal recipient (PR) of the project promised to replenish supplies. Karonga Diocese staff is encouraging volunteers to workers tirelessly in spite of these hardships especially educating communities on TB.

Karonga Diocese Health Facilities to Have a Harmonised HR Policy

By Veronica Kimangira

A three-day conference aimed at reviewing the Human Resource Policy, which will be used by all health facilities under the Diocese of Karonga is underway at Zutu House in Karonga. The Health Desk of the Diocese, with the help of the Human Resource Officer, is facilitating the review process.

Participants to the conference have been drawn from all five health facilities, under the proprietorship of the Diocese, namely; Atupele, St. Anne’s and Kaseye community hospitals, St. Clara Health Centre and Hope Clinic.

Discussions in progress
Discussions in progress

The policy review exercise seeks to replace the HR Policy which has been in force for quite some time and introduced a harmonized policy covering all health facilities under the Diocese. The revised policy will ensure compliance with emerging legislations and employment contracts.

The policy will also look at areas critical to the Healing Ministry of the Diocese and ensuring professionalism and efficiency in service delivery apart from clarifying expectation of performance and behavior and creating a healthy work place culture. The reviewed policy will be presented to the Caritas Board for approval before it is put into practice by individual facilities.

Community TB Volunteers putting on t-shirts as part of their identity
Health Desk Holds TB Project Review and Planning Meeting

By Deodatus Muriya

The Health Desk of the Diocese of Karonga says the Invest for Impact against TB and HIV has registered improvement this quarter in terms of new and presumptive TB cases as compared to the same period last year.

Health Desk Officer Vincent Shaba made this remarks during a quarterly review and planning meeting held at St Annie’s Parish in Chilumba on 17 May, 2019.

Despite registering improvement, Shaba cited two draw backs experienced in the reporting period, namely inactiveness of volunteers and limited supervision by Health Surveillance Assistants.

The participants to the meeting were the project team and Assistance District TB Officers from both Chitipa and Karonga District Health Office (DHO).

According to Shaba, the review and planning intended to see how the project has performed in the previous quarter and in which areas we need to improve in the coming quarter. At the end of the meeting, action points were drawn to consolidate the gains made and iron out challenges.

Among other things, the participants agreed to be involving all volunteers during health facility visits where they usually meet chairpersons of volunteers. They agreed to use these meetings as a platform for the project team to motivate volunteers.

The Health Desk is implementing TB Project which is been funded by Action Aid through Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) Health Commission.

Health Desk Officer Vincent Shaba (in white golf shirt) receiving drugs on behalf of the Diocese
World Vision International Donates Assorted Drugs To Karonga Diocese Health Desk

By Vincent Shaba

World Vision International (WVI) has donated assorted Anti-Malaria drugs to the health facilities under the Health Desk of the Diocese of Karonga. The drugs include Lumafantrine Artemether (LA), Artesunate in different dosages and Quinine (tablets and concentrate).

World Vision International hatched the idea of supporting health facilities in the Diocese in February this year. This was welcomed bearing in mind the burden of malaria in the areas where the health facilities belonging to the Diocese are located. The Diocese has five health facilities in Karonga and Chitipa districts three of which are located in hard to reach areas.

The drugs will be distributed to all health facilities under the Diocese namely; Kaseye Community Hospital and St. Clara Health Centre (Chisenga) in Chitipa District which serve a population of 12,123 and 16,000 respectively. In Karonga District, the Health Desk owns Atupele Community Hospital in Kasantha area with a catchment area population of 12,199, Hope Clinic at the centre serving 5,000 people, and St. Anne’s in Chilumba with a catchment area population of 6,697.

The Diocese is very grateful to World Vision International for the timely support. Health facilities in the Diocese face a number of challenges including shortage of medical equipment and professional staff (Nurses and Clinical Officers) and infrastructure among others.  Common infection are Malaria, acute respiratory infection, diarrhea and malnutrition.

Interplast Team Members
The 2nd Interplast team visits Malawi

By Vincent Shaba

Barely a month after the first team visited Malawi in February, another team of four members arrived on the 31st of March through Mbeya in Tanzania. The team includes two medical doctors namely Dr. Joachim Groschel, an Anaesthesia Specialist and Dr. Cornelia Leszinski.

Interplast Team Members
Interplast Team Members

Dr. Joachim, leading the team, has had a number of visits to Malawi with other teams before and is in love with Malawi.  Accompanying the two Doctors are Martin Stasius, a Nurse Anaesthetist and Angelika Mohrer, Surgical Nurse.

The team has special interest in abdominal surgical conditions. However, they are also assisting people with other surgical conditions including tumors. The team is expected to be in Malawi up to the 14th of April.

Doctors from German continue to assist rural masses in Chitipa, Karonga and other districts in Malawi. The team members are very excited and grateful for the warm welcome and friendly attitude of Malawian community especially those of Chitipa district.

The Health Desk continually thank Bishop Martin Anwel Mtumbuka and Dr. Shidelko for bringing closer specialty services to the people of rural Malawi. These services are only available in Central Hospitals making them inaccessible due to long distance and financial constraints and thus suffer silently.

Mr Vincent Shaba (left) with the members of the Interplast Team at Chitipa District Hospital
Interplast Team in First 2019 Visit to Malawi

By Vincent Shaba*

A 6 member team of 2 Doctors, 2 Nurses, Anesthetist and a student arrived in Malawi on the 28th of February from Germany. This is the first of multiple Interplast teams to come to Chitipa District in 2019.

Mr Vincent Shaba (left) with the members of the Interplast Team at Chitipa District Hospital
Mr Vincent Shaba (left) with the members of the Interplast Team at Chitipa District Hospital

Interplast Team, is a group of surgical specialists that visit Malawi each year to support with surgical interventions such as plastic surgery (burn scars), cleft palate repair, fractures repair, goiters removal, hernias repair and removal of different kinds of tumours.

The current team is concentrating on goiter removal. The team is led by Dr. Werner Wagner who has been to Malawi three times since 2016. He was very happy and eager to support with surgical services to poor Malawians who suffer due lack of access to surgical services. The team will stay for 2 weeks until the 7th of February before going back to Germany.

Dr. Claudia is a Dentist who joined the team to establish the need for dental services in Malawi and also install some dental equipment at the newly established Kaseye Dental Clinic. Findings on this mission will help the team to organise more support for dental services.

Dr Ted Bandawe receiving the POP cutter from Dr Wagner
Dr Ted Bandawe receiving the POP cutter from Dr Wagner

The Health Desk of the Diocese of Karonga is proud of the Interplast Team to have assisted hundreds of Malawians who otherwise suffer silently in rural communities without access to these surgical interventions and if at all access them in Mzuzu have to cough a lot of money for transport cost and other needs.  Another team of this group is expected to arrive in March this year. Thanks to his Lordship Bishop Mtumbuka for his connection with Interplast Team.

During this visit, Dr. Wagner donated a Plaster of Paris (POP) cutter/ saw to the Director of Health and social Services (DHSS), Dr. Ted Bandawe. These teams bring assorted medical equipment and supplies to the Chitipa District Hospital which are utilised by both the teams during visits and by our local medical professionals while the teams are not available.

In response, the DHSS was very grateful for the timely donation when orthopedic professionals at the Hospital are using a manual saw to remove POP from patients.

“This piece of equipment will reduce time and effort of practitioners in performing their duty,” said Dr Bandawe. “Thank you Dr. Wagner for the kind gesture.”

*The author is the Desk Officer for the Health Desk

From left to right: Mr Vincent Shaba (Health Desk Officer), Father Edward Kamanga, Patrick Msukwa and TB Volunteer during a monitoring visit
Patrick Msukwa’s Life Saved by Karonga Diocese TB Community Volunteers

By Mwawi Shaba*

Patrick Msukwa is a 45 year old man from Kapoka 1 Village in the area of Traditional Authority Mwenemisuku. He is married and has 6 children. He earns his living by doing smallholder agriculture; growing maize and other arable crops.

From left to right: Mr Vincent Shaba (Health Desk Officer), Father Edward Kamanga, Patrick Msukwa and TB Volunteer during a monitoring visit
From left to right: Mr Vincent Shaba (Health Desk Officer), Father Edward Kamanga, Patrick Msukwa and TB Volunteer during a monitoring visit

For a long while, Patrick has been having unceasing coughing. He has been buying and taking pain killers and cough medicine sold in various open shops at Kapoka.  But the situation only deteriorated; he continuously coughed.

He then started experiencing shortness of breath especially at night and he noted that he was sweating more than he normally did.  It is the seeming loss of weight; which came due to loss of appetite that pushed Patrick to realise that he was in deep health difficulty.

Patrick was however becoming desperate as to what he was to do considering that health care providers were very far from his village. The nearest and most reliable health facility was Chitipa District Hospital; about 15 kilometres away.  Considering that it was December 2018; a farming period that demanded a lot in terms of finances, he run into the temptation of being discouraged and put his life to chance. “Traveling to Chitipa is costly,” So he thought.

On one providential day, while walking to the market, Patrick Msukwa met someone carrying empty bottles which are used to collect sputum samples for TB testing. He expressed his desire to send the said sample and his wish was granted. He was given two empty bottles and given instruction on how he would do it.

John Munkhodya, was the volunteer in question. He, together with 10 others, forms a team of selfless individuals who go house by house education people about TB and where possible, they collect sputum samples for testing. Since the beginning of the project in 2016 they have literately combed the thin and thick of their community providing health education on TB and collecting sputum samples and taking them for testing at various sputum testing centres in the District.

New lease of life
New lease of life

Within two days after John Munkhondya took Patrick Msukwa’s sputum samples the results came out. The result that came indicated that Patrick had TB.  In the morning of Christmas Eve – 24th December, 2018, Patrick Msukwa went to Chitipa District Hospital to commence TB treatment. He was diligent to the treatment and he finished the first dosage on 6th January, 2019. He collected the second dosage.

At the time the author interacted with Patrick on 9th January, 2019, he openly and happily expressed joy and thanks to the volunteers who had helped him.

According to Patrick, “My energy levels have been restored. Chest pains which I used to experience profusely have subsided. Coughing has also reduced”.

“…I have picked up weight greatly. From 54 kilograms before I stated treatment to 59 kilograms when I went for medical review at Chitipa District Hospital.”Msukwa further reported.

Patrick, however, indicated that he is experiencing some increased itching on his skin but he further said the doctors had already warned that he would experience such side effects but should not despair as this will end after treatment.

 Patrick Msukwa is grateful to TB volunteers working in the area for rescuing him. He urged that to be even more vigilant to visit many villages especially those at a distance from Kapoka.

*The author is the Secretary of the Caritas Commission of the Diocese of Karonga

2018 Third INTERPLAST Team Arrives in Karonga Diocese

By Vincent Shaba

On the 18th of August, a third INTERPLAST Team in 2018 arrived from Germany. This is a 5 member team of Orthopedic Surgical Specialist comprising of Dr. Joachim Groschel (Anaesthetist), Dr. Thomas Vasters (Surgeon), Angelike Moehrer (Surgical Nurse) Barbra Hippler (Nurse anaesthetist) and Phillip Groschel (Assistant).

Interplast Team at Chitipa District Hospital
Interplast Team at Chitipa District Hospital

The Specialists were picked at the Kamuzu International Airport and spent a night in Mzuzu before arriving at Chitipa District Hospital the following day on the 19th. This team of specialists will assist patients with orthopedic conditions including fractures, cleft lips and palates, malformation of hands/legs, extensive burn scars, bone and soft tissue tumours until the 30th of August.

In the line of duty: Interplast Team in the operating theatre at Chitipa District Hospital
In the line of duty: Interplast Team in the operating theatre at Chitipa District Hospital

Chairperson of Interplast Team, Dr. Michael Shidelko, will join the team on 27 August. The team was very delighted upon arrival full of energy to fulfill their mission of serving Malawians with the above conditions.

Interplast Team’s visits to Malawi in general, and Karonga Diocese in Particular, are a result of the request Bishop Martin Anwel Mtumbuka made to the Team’s Chairperson.

Community TB Volunteers putting on t-shirts as part of their identity
Health Desk Distributes Enablers to Community TB Volunteers

By Vincent Shaba

The Health Desk of Karonga Diocese embarked on distribution of enablers to Volunteers in Karonga and Chitipa districts from the28th of July, 2018.

Community TB Volunteers putting on t-shirts as part of their identity
Community TB Volunteers putting on t-shirts as part of their identity

The enablers are distributed to Community TB Volunteers through a project entitled “Invest for impact against TB/HIV). This project is funded by Global Fund through Action Aid and Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM). The project, currently, covers 8 Dioceses in Malawi including Karonga Diocese and is coordinated by the National Office.

 Enablers include gumboots, face masks, bicycles, soap and T-Shirts etc. The enablers are distributed to both old and newly trained Volunteers in the last phase of the project that ended in 2017.

The enablers are distributed by transporters in company of a staff from Ministry of Health and a Karonga Diocese representative. All 39 Sputum collection points in 8 health centres in Chitipa benefitted from the enablers.

Volunteers expressed gratitude to the Diocese for the supply of protective wear and t-shirts as an identity. The t-shirts will go a long way in spreading message on TB in communities.

Poor roads and narrow bridges affected the distribution exercise
Poor roads and narrow bridges affected the distribution exercise

Among encountered challenges is poor road network with week bridges. On Thursday, the distribution started in Karonga District.