497 HSAs Undergo Amref-led Community Health Training

by Noah Wekesa

Amref Health Africa in Malawi, in partnership with the Pfizer Foundation, has embarked on a Transformative journey to strengthen the community health workforce by training and building the capacity of 497 Health Surveillance Assistants (HSAs) to provide quality Primary Health Care (PHC) services to last-mile rural communities.

Unlike the regular 12 weeks of training HSAs usually undergo, Amref will formally train HSAs for a year for the first time, with a recognized certification duly registered by the Medical Council of Malawi.

The training is being done under the Community Health Workforce project, which seeks to strengthen accountability processes at the community level to demand quality services from community health workers through the health centre management committees and build the capacity of 497 HSAs in the provision of quality primary health care services to rural communities. The project further aims to strengthen outreach health services beyond the health facility.

The Community Health Workforce Project will run from November 2023 to October 2024. It will provide the 500 HSAs with 6 months of theoretical learning at 4 different training institutions and 3 months of practical learning in the districts where they work.

One of the HSAs being trained, Richard Nyasulu from Lilongwe, states that the training will help contain outbreaks that threaten his community. He further states that the data processing lessons, which are part of the training, will enhance their data collection and help them digitalize their work with recent technology.

“Thank you to Amref Health Africa in Malawi, Pfizer Foundation and the Ministry of Health in Malawi for coming up with the project. We are enjoying the classes, and I look forward to Malawi swimming in the same boat with other countries in achieving good community health through this training,” Richard Nyasulu states.

Richard Nyasulu, Lilongwe HSA, during one of the lessons at the University of Livingstonia, Laws Campus in Mzuzu, Rhumpi District, Malawi.
Richard Nyasulu with his fellow HSAs colleagues heading to the lecture theatre at the University of Livingstonia, Laws Campus in Mzuzu, Rhumpi District, Malawi

Another HSA from Nguluwe Ntolo Health Facility, Marriam Banda, has explained how the training has been impactful and motivated her to further her studies and gain more knowledge on community health.

“This training has increased my knowledge; I never knew much about health education as much as I do now; this training has highlighted disease and outbreak prevention and how I can facilitate better in my community”, Marriam Banda says.

Marriam Banda after a lecture at the University of Livingstonia, Laws Campus in Mzuzu, Rhumpi District, Malawi

The University of Livingstonia, Laws Campus Principal Reverend Douglas Chipofya has applauded the HSAs’ training and recommended that more health workers be trained.

“Once the HSAs are trained here, they will be deployed back to their respective communities, and with the skills and knowledge gained here, the health of millions of Malawians will be greatly improved; we are happy to partner on this great initiative”, Reverend Douglas Chipofya further says.

Amref Malawi poses with the Ministry of Health Malawi and University of Livingstonia, Laws Campus representatives during a monitoring visit of the Health workforce project in Rumphi district, Mzuzu, Northern Malawi.

Amref projects that 500,000 beneficiaries will access quality community health care services in their communities through the trained HSAs who reside and work in Mangochi, Machinga, Zomba, Chikwawa and Salima districts based in central and southern regions of Malawi.

Some of the HSAs during a lesson at the University of Livingstonia, Laws Campus

Amref’s country strategy, ‘Transform 2030,’ aims to deliberately invest in health education initiatives such as the health workforce project, which will subsequently improve health outcomes in Malawi.

Written by Chisha Chola, Communications Officer, Amref Health Africa in Malawi

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