Dowa communities harvest from Mother Care Groups

Communities in Dowa are commending the establishment of Mother Care Groups (MCG), saying the groups have improved lives in the district hence impacting positively on social, economic and political circles.

A visit into the district found that with the formation of 24 MCGs, the number of pregnant women and children suffering from different ailments have reduced drastically.

Women interviewed disclosed that the number of pregnant women and under-five children receiving vaccines has jumped and currently the uptake is above 80 percent.

Some members of the MCG in Dowa

Prisca Mafuta, who is the chairperson of Msakambewa MCG, told journalists who visited the area to appreciate gains and challenges made that the group started with 30 people in 2019.

Mafuta stated that the major objectives of the formation of the group were to advocate for increased vaccine uptake for both pregnant women and under-five children.

And additionally, Mafuta said the group is also being used as Village Savings and Loan Association where women contribute cash in form of shares, which is later distributed amongst themselves depending on the number of shares each one is holding.

During the visit, it was also established that there is more men involvement on issues of maternal and child health.

However, despite the registering success stories, it was revealed that the MCGs were facing similar challenges across the 24 MCGs.

Some of the challenges include walking the fact that members walk long distances and that others walk more than 20 kilometres.

The women suggested that the problem can be addressed if the members can be given bicycles since the bicycles which were given at first are not working. Other challenges include raincoats, carrying bags, gumboots, stationery and vaccine structures.

Concurring with Mafuta, Hellena Mapondera of Chakhaza MCG said the success stories, which MCG have brought in the area, cannot be overemphasized.

She said the area has registered reduced numbers of vaccine defaulters. She commended opinion Leaders for standing with them.

Senior Health Surveillance Assistant Chrissy Chinoko said Chakhaza MCG is serving 26, 266 and that the area has recorded 90 percent vaccine uptake.

Gift Mwale from Kasalika Community Development – a MHEN network member who is working with in Dowa district – commended the project, saying it has changed the livelihoods of children and women.

He said previously, communities were taking much of their time to take care of their sick children but now, that is no longer the case.

“When children get vaccinated they do not  get sick frequently, which gives the opportunity for their parents to concentrate on social economic activities in their homes,” Said Mwale.

Mwale said the project has helped Communities to have good vaccine clinics which was never the same in the past.

He said in the past, people used dilapidated buildings for vaccinations which is no longer the same.

Estina Mbewe is MHEN Assistant Project Officer. In her remarks, Mbewe commended the project, saying it is one of the projects, which have achieved success.

Mbewe said a lot has been done such as distribution of bicycles per MCG to ease transport costs as well as training the members.

Msakambewa MCG chairlady confirmed having received the bicycles, but she said they all need repair.

“Of course more training is needed as well as more bicycles are needed too to solve the transportation problem.”

MCG is an initiative supported by Gavi through Malawi Health Equity Networks which was formed in 2000. MHEN is an alliance of 95 CSOs in the health sector. Its programs include: Health Systems Strengthening: Governance; Research; and Evidence-based advocacy.

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