With the Minister of Health present, Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) officially launched a community health care programme, funded by Norway.
The event in Lilongwe Tuesday 26th of February marked the start of the new programme “Improving Access to Quality health care in communities in Malawi”. The programme’s main goal is to improve the health and environment for mothers and children through provision of quality health services, psychosocial support and quality health workers in Malawi, by 2015.
“We want to contribute to bring the health services to an acceptable level in the shortest possible time, not compromising the quality of service be it medical or infrastructure”, NCA Country Representative, Mr. Oddbjørn Flem, said in his statement at Pacific Hotel.
Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) is implementing the programme with Christian Health Association (CHAM) and other partners, targeting 30 CHAM health centers in 14 districts. The programme has a budget of NOK 69 million.
Minister Hara thankful for CHAM services
At the launch, Honorable Minister of Health Ms. Catherine Gotani Hara, thanked Norway and NCA for their contributions to the health sector over many years, and expressed her gratitude towards CHAM’s work in Malawi.
Today, CHAM delivers close to 40 % of the health services in the country.
“I look at the relationship between the Government and CHAM as a marriage. […] This partnership is going to go on forever, till death do us apart”, Minister Hara said.
Minister Hara also emphasized that the new health programme is in line with the Government’s policies and priorities. Malawi’s President, HE Joyce Banda, has made reduction of maternal mortality one of her main political priorities.
Continuation of Norwegian health cooperation
The Royal Norwegian Embassy in Lilongwe has worked with NCA since its Malawi office was established in 2002. The cooperation has been focused on health from the start.
The programme is a continuation of NCA and the Embassy’s cooperation, and draws directly on experiences from earlier initiatives.
In his statement, the Norwegian Ambassador Asbjørn Eidhammer said he had been impressed by what many of the Norwegian Church Aid’s partners are achieving in health service quality, and he urged the partners to improve the reporting of their results and achievements.
The Ambassador also spoke on the current drug crisis and the role of development, stressing that as donors are part of the situation, they must also be part of the solution.
A broad programme
To achieve the programme goal, the implementing partners will work with many different challenges at once. The programme aim at i.e. improving health personnel’s knowledge, skills and attitudes, construct and rehabilitate health facilities, ensure access to health services in rural areas through outreach clinics and strengthen health training institutions and build management capacity.
“We are benefiting hugely from this programme. It addresses specific challenges in the entire health sector in Malawi”, CHAM Board Chairman Father Peter Mulomole said in his statement.
Since 2004 there have been improvements in the health sector in Malawi. The number of women delivering at health facilities has increased, and the number of pneumonia fatality cases is reduced.
However, Malawi still has one of the highest maternal mortality ratios in Sub-Saharan Africa, estimated to 675 per 100,000 live births.