Helen Timoffee, Director of the Malawi Water Project
March 31st. 2021
Even though our organization, The Malawi Water Project, already provided training on proper sanitation and hygiene to interested villagers, we found the training was not sufficient to achieve the behaviour change needed to improve the standard of health in families which would result in the prevention of infectious diseases. A much more intensive long term approach was needed.
I learned about the Community Health Club model developed by Dr. Juliet Waterkeyn and implemented by Africa AHEAD. The model is participatory and works on a community development basis with ownership being taken by the community members themselves through mutual support groups. The idea of forming Clubs intrigued me mainly because there is such a lack of opportunity for women in particular to get together to enjoy each other’s company socially and it is much more fun to join together to tackle a problem than is it working on our own. Since the concept has proven to be successful in many countries in Africa, I decided that our team in Malawi would benefit from the training and the villages they are working alongside of would benefit from the implementation of the CHC model.
Dr. Waterkeyn organized a training session on Zoom. Our Community Health Promoters along with Government of Malawi Health Surveillance Assistants took all 4 Modules of the training. It was very comprehensive and participatory. It was so beneficial to take the training with teams from Kenya and South Sudan. The participants received the benefit of Dr. Waterkeyn’s experience of more than 25 years implementing the Community Health Club model so it was very helpful to have real life examples of the successes that can be achieved by a CHC. Participants were encouraged to develop a name for their club, a slogan, a song and they were encouraged to role play just as though they were forming a CHC themselves. The “learn to do by doing” motto always produces better results than “learn by being told”.
I would highly recommend the training for any community health care worker responsible for helping a community to improve their public health.