The Initiative uses Community Mobilization and Training of Chiefs as a primary prevention tool. Primary prevention is a very important aspect of health that can save the Government Millions of Kwachas as it addresses problems before they occur saving expenditures on actual conditions and improving the quality of life of the population.
Through health promotion, prominent chiefs, influential leaders and their communities have been experiencing some transformation which led to the significant decrease in deaths of women and children from 2013 – 2014.
However, with the current set up which has seen the Initiative being moved from OPC to Ministry of Health, there is little or no progress being made due to in sufficient funding from the Ministry as well as partners hence causing undesirable backwards progress.
For instance, through our activities, the local people are encouraged to have small families they can afford to feed in order to curb extreme poverty and population boom.
The Initiative mainly concentrates in the typical rural very hard to reach areas where health care information is very scarce and targets influential opinion leaders that are at the very heart of Malawian society. These are regarded as powerful and highly respected individuals with the ability to bring about profound cultural, social, and political transformation. As a result, the Initiative works closely with Chiefs in order to promote cultural habits that influence health-seeking behavior and promote community participation as regards access to quality health care.
Most importantly, chiefs work with the aim of accelerating access to Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) services for all men and women across Malawi. This includes challenging commonly held misconceptions and attitudes when it comes to topics such as Family Planning (FP), pregnancy and delivery, HIV/AIDS, Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT), and violence against women. In doing so, communities are mobilized to access quality reproductive health services thereby contributing to the reduction of mortality and neonatal rates in the country.
A robust engagement with Chiefs and other gate keepers has been one of the most effective and significant community outreach tools. Chiefs are also responsible for forming ‘Safe Motherhood Committees’ comprised of other fellow traditional and religious leaders as well as members of the community. Once trained, these committees are responsible for conducting community education programmes. Whilst many Malawians fail to truly understand Family Planning and associated issues, Chiefs are held in a unique position to ensure that such topics are discussed openly within their respective communities. By utilizing chiefs and other key opinion leaders effectively, thousands of lives in Malawi have been saved.
The Initiative promotes engagement of Chiefs, men, religious leaders, teachers, traditional leaders and other opinion leaders to encourage their subjects to access modern family planning methods at all levels such as hormonal injections, condoms and hormonal pills. Some of the issues promoted include; HIV /AIDS, Girl child empowerment on issues related to sexual and reproductive health and rights as well as new roles of TBAs and Traditional Healers in maternal health and safe motherhood.