Background. In the context of the burden of disease and the need to promote health among the Malawian population, Health Communication for Life in 2016 embarked on a 5-year social and behaviour change communication (SBCC) project to support the Malawian government’s effort to expand access to sustainable health services. As part of this support, a capacity assessment was conducted in the Ministry of Health.
Objectives. To obtain a baseline measurement of current SBCC competencies, and to inform skills building for SBCC.
Methods. Two standardised participatory tools were developed to capture SBCC competencies at the national and zonal/district levels, based on a collective competency framework. The national assessment was conducted with 8 health promotion officers based in the Health Education Section of the Ministry of Health. At district level, 30 district health promotion officers from 28 districts participated in the assessment.
Results. The capacity assessment showed that health promotion officers had on average low capacity to plan, implement and evaluate SBCC interventions. However, there was variation within different domains, where the institutional capacity to lead and co-ordinate at both national and district levels was fairly strong, yet organisational capacity to evaluate, scale and sustain SBCC interventions was relatively weak. Participants also provided input to improve the assessment tools.
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As mobile technology has become ubiquitous, Malawi has seen several robust service delivery mobile applications for healthcare deployed with different levels of success. SMS and phone hotline projects have reached national scale and have been widely regarded as having both high impact and ease of use. Unfortunately, to date, no smartphone applications have been able to scale to a national audience and systems remain in silos both geographically, topically, and technically. With limited resources, how do we determine which solutions should expand, where pilots can provide
new insights into existing gaps, and how to create a national policy that allows for both innovation and scale?
To aid the Kuunika: Data for Action project in developing and implementing mobile technology in Malawi, and to a larger extent, to aid the Ministry of Health and Population in the governance of mobile technology, Cooper Smith conducted an independent evaluation of mobile health technology systems currently being implemented in Malawi. This assessment provides a concrete way that Malawi can adapt high-level frameworks and tools into assessments that provide evidence for policies, standards, and strategies in mobile health.
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In Africa south of the Sahara, including Malawi, an estimated 61 percent of children below the age of five are developmentally challenged as a result of poverty, malnutrition, and lack of early stimulation and learning opportunities. Early-childhood development (ECD) programmes, which aim to improve young children’s survival, health and development are considered one of the most cost-effective human capital investments that can be provided by governments particularly when compared to subsequent schooling interventions. Community-based Childcare Centres (CBCCs) are a key element of ECD programs in Malawi. CBCCs serve 3–5-year-olds by promoting holistic child development through provision of safe and stimulating environments, access to health and nutrition services, and capacity building for parents and caregivers. In Malawi, there are an estimated 11,000 CBCCs across the country, but many are not functional. Lack of food provision at the CBCC leads to high rates of absenteeism and is considered one of the main reasons for the closing of CBCCs. To address this, Save the Children in partnership with Chancellor College-University of Malawi developed an integrated agriculture-nutrition package that was implemented alongside the standard ECD component. This included activities to promote nutritious food production and consumption, promotion of optimal feeding and caring practices, and engagement with parents in pre-school meal planning and preparation.
The Nutrition Embedded Evaluation Program Impact Evaluation (NEEP-IE) cluster randomized control trial aimed to assess the effectiveness of implementing an agriculture and nutritional intervention through CBCCs in Malawi. This newly published paper presents the impact results of this control trial, focusing on child development outcomes of pre-school children during a 12 months intervention period.
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In April 2018, almost 1,200 people gathered in Indonesia for the Summit on Behaviour and Social Change Communication. Practitioners, researchers, donors, and leaders from more than 400 organisations travelled to Nusa Dua from the Asia Pacific region, Africa, Europe, Latin America, and North America. This issue features ten papers prepared by Summit participants based on their presentations. They cover a range of challenges from using story-telling to help fishermen in Belize deal with threats to their occupations, and influencing adolescent girls and boys in India to address gender discrimination and stereotyping – to the use of social media to change norms regarding babies’ health in Malawi.
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