Malawi Liverpool Wellcome shoot health facilities in arms.

Responding to the Cholera outbreak Malawi Liverpool Wellcome (MLW) Programme on December 24th, 2022, donated assorted medical supplies to eight health facilities in Blantyre Urban.

MLW’s Sites Manager Chimwemwe Theu said the current state of cholera outbreak poses a serious public health threat and demands serious interventions from various stakeholders.

Theu said MLW considered it imperative to donate to the facilities in Blantyre and Chikwawa as they collaborate in several areas including research.

In Blantyre, Limbe, Gateway, Bangwe and Zingwangwa health centres received the donation from MLW.

In Chikwawa, Chikwawa District Hospital and St. Montfort Mission Hospital in Nchalo have also received  medical supplies which include Ringers lactate, IV cannula, ORS, HTH, Zinc Oxide Plater, Gloves and Doxycline to aid them in containing the epidemic.

According to MLW’s Sites Manager,  the total budget expenditure by MLW is eight million kwacha. However, due to some stockouts of some items from vendors some of the supplies will be physically handed over in January 2023.

sDorah Mwafulirwa the facility in-charge for at Limbe Health Centre applauded MLW for assistance saying such a gesture will hugely contribute to addressing cholera outbreak.

Mwafurwa said, “ We are so grateful and really appreciated the donations which came from MLW for Cholera. The degree of the problem at our facility is big as the numbers are rising and falling on different days, it’s bigger than what we normally expected each year.”

Currently,  Malawi has recorded over 15 thousand  cholera cases and over 400 cholera related deaths.

MLW Concludes Training its Staff in Safeguarding

Malawi Liverpool Wellcome (MLW) has completed a series of safeguarding trainings with a call for refresher trainings to keep staff members abreast with the new policy.  

The Safeguarding Policy was designed to improve the work relations of staff members to prevent and address abuse and exploitation of fellow staff members and study participants.  

MLW’s Safeguarding Officer Eliza Mkutumula said for the policy to be effective and maintain the desired status, there is a need for biannual fresher training sessions to be embraced.  

Mkutumula said, “ To ensure behavior change, staff need to report safeguarding issues and the organisation will need to quickly respond to these reports and provide timely feedback. We all need to keep each other accountable and speak up when we see harm amongst ourselves and on study participants.”  

“I have noted that people are talking a lot about safeguarding matters and asking questions. I have been approached by people, calling attention to potential safeguarding matters and seeking guidance on what can be done to prevent harm.”  

One of the participants during the last phase of the safeguarding training Vincent Mkwinda thanked MLW for adopting a Safeguarding Policy. 

“As we all know, accountability is a key to ensuring that the policy achieves its intended goal. Knowledge of this policy will ensure that MLW staff members can recognise and report safeguarding issues thus ensuring that no harm is done to staff and even community members who work directly with MLW. Also, community members who take part in research activities will know what is expected of them as they carry out MLW duties,” expressed Mkwinda. 

A safeguarding training session that was organised on 28 September 2021 was the last one. 

MLW Launches a New Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) in Health

Malawi Liverpool Wellcome (MLW) has adopted a new Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on mental health and wellness.

According to MLW ‘s Occupational Health Nurse Stephen Amos, the new SOP, which was incorporated on 1 October 2021, will facilitate a long-lasting change regarding employees’ health.

 “In the initial mental health and wellness programme, there was no development of a health plan, monitoring, and rewarding consistent participators. The new SOP will put into consideration all these aspects. If perhaps a person’s goal is to lose weight, the person will take every opportunity like exercising and dieting to achieve his plan and goals,” said Amos.

Another staff member Zione Pondani commended MLW for introducing this new health and wellness SOP. According to Pondani, this is the right time to introduce such a programme because of the high rates of suicide cases and other non-communicable diseases like diabetes which need to be discussed often and to be approached openly.

“This training has been an eye-opener for someone like me, who thought that wellness programmes were a waste of time. I am ready to join either sports or entertainment social groups as a way of taking care of my health,” said Pondani.

MLW has social groups including music, mental health, gymnastics, and sports which were established as one way of promoting well-being and health. These workplace wellness programmes not only benefit employees in being productive at work, but they also help people to adopt and maintain healthy behaviors which in turn brings positive impact in other aspects of their lives.

MARVELS Study Making Positive Strides in PCV-13 Trial Test

Malawi Accelerated Research in Vaccines, Experimental and Laboratory Systems (MARVELS) Study group engaged with Soche Technical and PACT College students to brief them about the Pneumonia Conjugate Vaccine (PCV-13) test which is currently underway.  

The study, which aimed at establishing the efficacy rate of PCV-13 in the country, decided to engage students in higher learning institutions as participants.  The results of the study will help in driving healthy policies revolving around pneumonia protection in Africa and beyond.  

MARVELS Study Senior Projects Coordinator Neema Toto said the briefings achieved their objective which was to introduce the study to the students and thereby, increasing the number of study participants.  

“We were receiving an increased number of students from the colleges enquiring about our study. As such, we wanted to reach out to many at the shortest time, “said Toto. 

Speaking during the briefing, one of the members of staff representative at Soche Technical College described the meeting as an eye-opener on the topic of Pneumonia Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) and the rising need to test its efficacy locally.  

The MARVELS Study is currently eyeing to extend their engagements to other colleges with the aim of fishing more participants to meet the study sample size of  200. 

The PVC-13 trial study was rolled out in 2019 and it is being funded by the Wellcome Trust.  

Community Radios to Benefit from MLW Pandemic Report Trainings

To help build the capacity of the local media in reporting the COVID-19 pandemic, MLW under its Communications Department has been conducting pandemic reporting training with community radio journalists. So far, journalists from Mchinji, Mangochi, Rumphi, Karonga Nkhotakota, and Chikwawa have benefited from this initiative. 

These trainings are being conducted under Empower to report: Inform to Dispel media project with funding from the National Research Fund – NRF COVID-19 rapid response grant led by Rachel Mhango, Rodrick Sambakunsi, and Yohane Gadama. 

Speaking on the need of conducting these trainings, Rachel Mhango said, “The media has an upper hand in influencing people’s decisions on many issues and COVID is no exception. For this reason, it is required of journalists to report only what is right.” 

“Upskilling journalists on the principles of effective science communication is the key for this project. Most rural settlers only rely on community radios. Training community journalists who are gatekeepers of the community is very important because it will lead to informed decision-making including getting vaccinated. These trainings alone are not enough, we will continue to conduct online refresher trainings and online dialogues through WhatsApp and sharing of educational links such as World Health Organisation’s and MLWs sites,” said Mhango.  

A journalist from Tuntufye Community Radio Station in Rumphi Gamphani Gondwe is one of the beneficiaries of these trainings. He said he will put to use the skills which have been invested in him to help people make informed decisions through science reporting.  

“The purposeful spread of inaccurate information is nothing new, a wide range of people have become immersed in fake science news that they have lost their trust in radios these days. This being the main challenge, the trainings conducted by MLW has fully equipped us on how to change people’s mindset, how to convince them to believe in what is true, and how to make them ambassadors of the truth,” said Gondwe. 

These trainings are essential vehicles for community journalists to gain new skills and knowledge in a pandemic-evolving news setting. And because science journalism is the main conduit for the dissemination of scientific information to the public, involving people from the science field in these trainings, can promote the efficient transmission of scientific advances to the lay public.  

News coverage remains influential in setting public agendas regarding what news consumers talk about and how policymakers respond. There is a strong belief that the breadth of expertise that these community radio journalists have acquired, will benefit Malawi at large.  

Field Workers Share their Work Experiences

The Communications and Public Engagement Department at Malawi Liverpool Wellcome (MLW) has conducted a series of field workers’ visits in Zomba, Mangochi, and Lilongwe to detect and iron out welfare differences among field workers. 

The meetings that were conducted from 29 September to 1October 2021 in the districts were aimed at briefing field workers of the newly introduced Fieldworkers Initiative Office and capturing their concerns. 

During one of the meetings, a field worker based in Zomba Timeyo Mtenga said the interaction was a positive platform that instilled hopes for change regarding field workers’ welfare. 

“We believe that this meeting will bear positive fruits because several things have been highlighted and we hope our input will inform decision making at the senior management,” said Mtenga.  

During the meetings, issues of transport, office space, and inadequate training for field workers emerged as crucial problems that are limiting field workers’ operations. 

Commenting after the visits, Fieldworker Coordinator Latoya Kamwendo said the trip was a success because the interactions with field workers revealed issues and gaps that need to be addressed.  

MLW, QECH, and MSF Jointly Celebrate Handwashing Day

In line with the 2021 Global Handwashing Day theme “Our future is at hand – Let’s move forward together”,  Malawi Liverpool Wellcome (MLW), Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH), and Medicines Sans Frontiers  (MSF) came together to celebrate the day.   

The commemoration event centred on educating the public about hand hygiene measures critical in blocking disease transmission.  

After the ceremony, MLW’s Representative at the event Hellen Mangochi described the handwashing day as a success, with the intended message conveyed to Malawians. 

“We have encouraged and reminded Malawians of the importance of proper handwashing. With MLW being in the same vicinity as QECH,  it is of great significance to collaborate and help them improve community hygiene,” said Mangochi. 

A Nurse Supervisor at Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF) Naomi Samuriwo said, “The event was a powerful platform for disseminating information that is critical for disease control. Washing hands is a cheap but effective approach to breaking the chain of infection, and it was imperative to engage guardians and health workers at QECH on this best practice, “. 

The commemoration event was punctuated by competition and performances from the QECH Drama Group.