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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.

Health Desk of Karonga Diocese Improves Access to Medical Care for People Suffering from TB in Karonga and Chitipa

By Deodatus Muriya (Monitoring and Evaluation Desk Officer)

The Health Desk of Karonga has improved access to medical care for people suffering from chronic cough through the work of volunteers who encourage people to within their catchment area to get diagnosed for Tuberculosis (TB), start treatment immediately if found TB positive and following up patients on treatment.

This was disclosed at the biannual review of TB Project organized by the Episcopal Conference of Malawi Health Desk. The Karonga Diocese Health Desk Officer, Mr. Vincent Shaba said through TB project, communities have been assisted to be aware of TB infection and also reduce stigma.

“The project has helped to clear out misconceptions. For instance, people in the community believe that if have TB, then you are automatically HIV positive. They also believe that HIV can be tested in sputum hence fear to submit sputum.” Said Mr. Shaba.

According to Gilbert Banda, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer for ECM, the aim of the biannual review meeting is to assess the financial and programmatic progress of the project. He further said that this biannual review has given implementing agencies an opportunity to review the overall grant performance being the final month on the current project.

The Review meeting, which was held at Red Zebra in Salima from 18th to 21st December, 2017, gave an opportunity to implementing partners to share experiences, challenges encountered ways of mitigating them, lessons learned and best ways for improving the implementation of the project activities.

The Episcopal conference of Malawi (ECM) Health Department is implementing a TB Project in Karonga and Mzuzu Dioceses and Lilongwe Archdiocese with funding from Action Aid. The project is being implemented in Karonga, Chitipa, Likoma, Mzimba, Nkhatabay, Rumphi, Ntchisi, Dowa, Kasungu and Lilongwe Districts with the National Office coordinating.