Malawi Govt hails BLM for championing family planning: Launches centre’s blue star network

Government through the Ministry of Health has praised the country’s private health care provider, Banja La Mtsogolo (BLM) for making family planning easily accessible to Malawians in both urban and rural areas.

This was said at Nkhalango private clinic in Likuni, Lilongwe where BLM launched its central region Bluestar Healthcare Network, an initiative that provides training, marketing and logistical support to private clinics to improve the quality and the availability of family planning methods.

The BlueStar Healthcare Network, according to BLM country director Linda Edwards, has been operating in 34 clinics in the Southern Region before the launch in central region.

She said by spreading to the central region BLM has since partnered with 20 extra clinics from 6 districts in region, taking the total number of members country wide to 54.

Guest of honour, Director Of Health Services in the ministry of health, Dr Chithope Mwale, making a speech.

BLM's Country Director, Linda Edwards, making a speech at the function

Capacity building 

On his part, director of health services in the ministry Dr. Chithope Mwale said the initiative has already paid dividends as evidenced by the capacity BLM has built for small private clinics that are now able to meet the needs of Malawians in both urban and peri-urban areas.

“As government we’re proud of the accomplishments the country has made in expanding access to family planning and we are proud of our relationship with Banja La Mtsogolo,” said Dr. Mwale who graced the occasion as guest of honor.

However, the senior government official further observed that despite the success story the initiative has registered still there is need for improvement by ensuring that many Malawians are accessing the service in order to reduce morbidity and mortality cases from what he called unintended pregnancies.

Added Dr. Mwale: “As government we know the job ahead is still large. There remains too much unmet need for family planning and too much avoidable morbidity and mortality from unintended pregnancy. That is why we are very pleased that partners like Banja La Mtsogolo are willing to assist with innovative approaches like the BlueStar Healthcare Network.”

He therefore urged individual clinics to take ownership of the initiative in order to make self sustainable.

Many beneficiaries  

BLM launched the project for social franchising in Malawi in early 2008. Since then it has entered into a fractional franchise arrangement with the private clinics to provide services aimed at improving the reproductive health of women in urban and peri-urban catchments.

Among the services BLM is providing under the initiative include family planning and male circumcision.

So far, according to BLM’s products manager Mario Mame, the initiative has already benefited over 268,621 clients, including at least 27,813 family planning clients.

In her remarks, managing director of Nkhalango clinic Ellen Matabwa, who has delivered up to 2,010 babies at the clinic since its opening in 2001, said the initiative would help her in providing effective reproductive health services at the clinic among others.

“The initiative will assist me a lot since I will be providing all these services right here unlike on the past when I used to refer clients to Bwaila Hospital for implants and other family planning services.”

Apart from providing clinical training, BLM also accords a blue star clinic marketing and logistical support to improve the quality, availability and access to family planning methods.

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