The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection (REZ) from Kansas, United States of America in partnership with The Malawi United Methodist Church (MUMC) are working on a comprehensive community development approach in Madisi, Dowa district in Malawi.This aims at creating a vibrant Madisi community. I describe a vibrant community as one where committed citizens work together to build a community that is caring, prosperous and sustainable.
The approach includes:-
1. Health –
(a) Madisi Nutrition Clinic
According to Mr. Banda who works at Madisi Catholic Mission Hospital, malnutrition remains a public health issue in Madisi and the commonest reason for paediatric hospital admission. Based on this, REZ and MUMC adopted and use Community Therapeutic Care (CTC) an approach of delivering care to under five children with malnutrition within their communities. A change in approach from the in-patient based programmes. As well as supporting what the Catholic Clinic and other government clinics are doing in combating malnutrition in Madisi.
The Madisi Nutrition clinic in Madisi is run by a dedicated nutrition staff Chimwemwe Mhango. Clinic days are Tuesdays and Thursdays and Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, she does community outreach.
Depending on severity of the malnutrition, the children get Plumpy nut, manufactured locally in Malawi, which has made the treatment of
malnutrition much easier for families as it is administered at home.
The Meals of Hope is also distributed as a supplementary feed,
For the past two and a half years I have been managing the health and nutrition program in Madisi, I have learnt that Plumpy nut is easy for the mothers to administer, the children like it, they are responding well and the mothers are able to stay at home, look after their other children, do their normal work and farm. The mothers have even started bringing their malnourished children to the nutrition clinic before they get too serious ill. I think it is because they know that they can treat their
children at home.
The clinic also recruits adults living with HIV/AIDS who may be referred from the Catholic, Government clinics or “walk in” for nutrition care. Chimwemwe assesses them to see if they meet our recruitment criteria before they are recruited.
The programme needs the dedication of staff like Chimwemwe to succeed. She uses a bicycle to travel as far as 15km on steep, hilly dirt tracks to see how the malnourished children under her care are responding.
CTC has resulted in increased access and coverage of the services in Madisi. The clinic is now seeing fewer cases of complicated malnutrition because they present to the clinic early. Communities participation and have increased capacity to prevent, recognise and manage malnutrition.
Watch out for “Towards vibrant Madisi community Part 2”.
By Mercy Chikhosi Nyirongo