Over the years, Community Engagement Section under the Communications and Public Engagement Department has been mainly relying on community meetings for sensitisation and consultation with various community groups. In June 2022, the section successfully managed to introduce ‘Community Debates’ in Chikwawa which aimed at sharing of health research-related information with communities and building up on their already existing knowledge using their own local counterparts.
The community debates were conducted in Group Villages Njereza and Mpangowalimba where MLW studies, including EPIMAL and SAiNTS, are being implemented. The debates were patronized by almost 400 people.
Speaking during one of the debate sessions, Chikwawa District Health Surveillance Assistant for GVH Njereza catchment area Charles Kadulira, indicated that community debates will intensify local participation in health research in the area because it provides a good platform for community members to articulate health research issues which, in turn, will help them to see multiple sides of health research work.
Community Engagement and Exhibition Officer Kestern Mkoola encouraged community members to be at the centre of the deliberations and implementation of health research work. Mkoola commended that using a wide range of community engagement tools is essential in the efforts to establish well-informed communities about health research.