Social Welfare Office in Blantyre says the establishment of One-Stop Centre facility at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) has significantly contributed to the reduction in cases of gender based violence in the district.
Assistant Social Welfare Officer for the district, Chikumbutso Salifu, said Wednesday that most vulnerable groups who include adolescent girls between the ages 5-16 have since been protected through the establishment of the one-stop centre in Blantyre.
Salifu said the facility underscores the relevance of people who have been abused, particularly victims of gender based violence, to access tips and services from the facility.
“Surely, we have made some positive strides since the inception of the one-stop centre over a year ago. Imagine that over 99 per cent of 500 female survivors of abuse in Blantyre have since accessed our professional expertise and therapy sessions among other notable services.
“Beyond that, 90 per cent of child survivors of abuse below the age of 16 have also accessed such services as we have rigorously intervened against defilement, rape, physical abuse and sodomy -related cases,” Salifu explained.
He described one-stop centre as a direct by-product of the Ministry of Health’s mandate to coordinate all efforts and activities with other sectors like the police, legal representation and the faith community who provide psychosocial care and counseling.
According to the social welfare officer, the facility is deliberately designed to comprise several partners with various expertise and professionalism to ensure services are well coordinated and jointed in one roof.
“For instance, medical services are provided by the centre’s medical department which looks into issues of treatment and production of legal documents which are in turn tendered to law enforcers, then to the court of law upon full investigation of the case at hand,” he added.
Other services provided at the centre are HIV testing and counseling, post exposure prophylaxis to protect victims from contracting HIV and AIDS from GBV perpetrators and accessing emergency contraception within 72 hours of an incident.
“Suffice to say that group sessions at the centre are meant to encourage individual victims to share their concerns and traumatic experiences, play-therapy sessions are also provided to kids below the age of six where there are specific activities organized by an expert to lessen trauma,” he said.
Meanwhile, Salifu has disclosed that his department has identified some child care centres to help with service provision to children at their facilities. The centres include Chisomo Children’s Club, the Samaritan Trust, Malawian Girls Home, and Open Arms.
He said the child centres had been selected based on the open policy declaration.
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