In a bid to address capacity gaps among Health Surveillance Assistants, HSAs, and improve primary healthcare in the communities, government has revealed that it has developed a one-year integrated modular training expected to roll out soon.
This follows a prolonged outcry by the HSAs that their 12 week training is not sufficient since they handle a lot of health campaigns that are complicated in nature.
Most of these health-related issues are vital in the fight against child and maternal mortality.
While Malawi is implementing various strategies and policies at national level to improve health service delivery, community health has been highlighted as extensively significant because primary healthcare serves the marginalized population in remote areas.
The country has about 11,000 Health Surveillance Assistants—HSAs—that provide services such as community assessment, reporting on outbreaks, providing immunization for Under-5 children, treating minor illnesses among Under-5 children, assessment of malnourished children to promote nutrition and providing antenatal care to expectant mothers.
Despite the crucial role that these HSAs play in the communities, capacity challenges affect their work.
As the National Community Health Strategy comes to an end this December, Government has acknowledged the need of upgrading the HSAs to be better equipped following the emergence of various pandemics and epidemics in the country.
Deputy Director for Preventive Health Services Responsible for Community Health in the Ministry of Health, Doreen Ali, says the integrated modular training expected will equip HSAs better because they are crucial to primary healthcare in the communities.
The White Ribbon Alliance is one of the organizations advocating for primary healthcare and financing towards achieving universal health coverage in Malawi.
The organization’s communications and advocacy manager, Newton Kalua, has called upon policy makers and other stakeholders to invest more towards primary healthcare.
The current National Community Health Strategy faces a deficit of $120 million US Dollars.
In order to ensure that Primary Healthcare is achieved in the country, 4,000 community groups were established across the country.
The youth are also involved in the provision of Primary Health Care.