By Blackson Mkupatira, MANA
Mulanje District Health Office (DHO), with help from Partners, has devised a K11 million Coronavirus (COVID- 19) Response, Preparedness Master Plan aimed at mitigating risk and containing the pandemic in the event of an outbreak.
Speaking on Wednesday during an emergency District Executive Committee (DEC) meeting on the same, Mulanje District Health Office Assistant Environmental Officer, Masilina Kausiwa said Mulanje being a bordering district with Mozambique, was at a higher risk because of its porous borders.
She said this is why they thought it wise to formulate the plan that mainly focuses on social mobilization, capacity building, surveillance of hotspots, advocacy and purchase of medical supplies and equipment.
“The idea is to reach out to communities with key massages on the virus so that they are aware of how they could protect themselves and respond when showing signs and symptoms.
“So we have planned community dialogues at village level and health talks in all the 23 health centers across the district, and on Mzati Community Radio Station and another Mozambican radio to reach out to people living within the borders,” Kausiwa said.
She added that the DHO will also conduct follow-ups of people on self-quarantine and step up its surveillance efforts to ensure the district is free from the virus.
“Currently, we are doing follow ups on two people from United Kingdom who are on 14-day self-quarantine. They have no signs or symptoms; it’s just standard procedure for anyone coming from countries where the virus has already invaded. We are also screening people coming from Mozambique through the Muloza border,” she said.
She pointed out that there are many challenges the DHO is facing in executing the plan hence appealed for stakeholder’s concerted efforts.
“We only have one Infrared Thermometer in the district that can take a person’s temperature from a distance considering the nature of this pandemic. It was previously located at the border but now it’s at the DHOs office as we are using it to test the two people under self-quarantine.
“We need to purchase medical supplies and equipment in readiness of the virus. We need, about 200 Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), infrared thermometers, antiseptic soaps and recommended face masks, among other things,” she said.
Mulanje District Council Director of Health and Social Services (DHSS), Alinafe Kalanga stressed the need to strengthen cross border coordination saying currently there are inadequate cross border surveillance measures.
She said there was lack of knowledge and skills on the part of health workers to identify and manage the virus and lack of resources to implement many of the activities in the master plan.
“Some partners are already coming in with help but we need traditional leaders, Members of Parliament and special interest groups to help in sensitizing communities and lobbying for resources so that we can have a well-informed community, and be fully prepared for this global pandemic,” Kalanga said.
Othakarhaka Charity Foundation Programs Director, Ted Mwango, commended the DHO for its proactive response to the Corona virus.
“In most cases we seems to be reactive, so this is very commendable, we know the challenges the health center is facing in the country, we will see how best we can lend a hand as stakeholders,” he said.
Malawi has not registered a single case as of Covid-19. There are 268 people on follow-up who had a history of travel to countries consider COVID-19 hot-spot by Malawi.