August 7, 2019
By Mike Ziemerink
In the Neno District of Malawi there are no paved roads servicing the district hospitals, making it a great challenge for its 160,000 people to access healthcare. The district is one of the poorest and most rural, underdeveloped areas of the country.
Community Health Workers (CHWs) are on the front-line of healthcare in the district. They live in the communities in which they work and reduce the need of vulnerable patients to travel. CHWs are trusted in their communities and ensure patients are receiving necessary care, treatment and even provide psychosocial support.
CHWs spend significant time each week attending to the health needs of their assigned households, conducting home visits, monitoring treatment, screening patients and even accompanying them to distant health centres.
As vital community members it’s imperative CHWs have a sufficient livelihood to stay motivated and able to complete their work. Partners In Health (PIH) Malawi, locally known as Abwenzi Pa Za Umoyo (APZU), runs the CHW program in the district. CHWs fall into two categories: senior CHWs, who receive a monthly stipend of $34 and junior CHWs who receive $23. Considering the amount of work they have been assigned and their duties as household heads, these stipends are inadequate.
Realizing the needs of CHWs in Neno District, PWRDF partnered with APZU to improve livelihoods by providing CHWs with breeding goats. These goats will provide CHWs with another income source, additional food security and open up more time for them to fully participate in health delivery for the community.
CHWs will receive training and support from APZU in collaboration with the Malawi Ministry of Agriculture to ensure the goats thrive and families receive the full benefits of owning them.
In the first year of the project, 270 CHWs will receive goats and over the course of the three-year project, as the goats breed, they will be distributed to all 1,227 CHWs across the district.
This project will not only benefit the CHWs and their families, but the whole community. When CHWs worry less about their livelihoods they can spend more time ensuring the entire community has access to safe and proper healthcare.