Being a nurse-midwife for some years, my concern was an individual patient, I focused on care to patients who were ill, i could wait at the hospital for patients to come with their complaints. Now my focus changed, i regard the community as my patient, i try to improve the health of a population, i travel to meet people in their own environment, focusing on disease prevention and health promotion. Therefore, going to Wilson village was one of such visits, this time was to officially support a feeding program run by the community, but identified another problem as well, water!
Wilson Village is a poor and remote area in Nsanje district, in the southern part of Malawi. The community has approximately 100 households. Like a patient going to a doctor with a complaint, the people of Wilson village are complaining of poor water source. The community has an unprotected well, covered with wood, leaving a small opening where women use to dip a bucket to fetch water.
According to local chief Wilson, the women walk a long distance to the nearest borehole to fetch clean water. “Our women and children usually bear the burden of water collection, walking about 7kms to the nearest borehole. Along their long walk, they’re subjected to a greater risk of harassment and sexual assault. Time spent walking and resulting diseases keep them from school, work and taking care of their families”, the chief said.
Though the well is covered with wood on top to protect it from people and animal falls, but it still has loop holes which put animals at risk of falling into it. The well is so deep that the people can hardily notice if an animal has fallen into it. The community hardily boils the water fetched from this well due to lack to fired wood. This puts the community at higher risk of water borne diseases. Children are especially vulnerable, as their bodies aren’t strong enough to fight diarrhea, dysentery and other illnesses.
It is clear that clean water supply saves money on medical costs in addition to saving lives. Therefore, the people of Wilson village are pleading with the United Methodist Church to take action.
By Mercy Chikhosi Nyirongo