Your MACEPA Malaria Minute: Religious Leaders’ Indaba

By Chelsea Montes De Oca
Advocacy and Communications Officer, MACEPA, and Global Health Corps Fellow

Meet the new staff!

Photo: PATH/Chelsea Montes de Oca

MACEPA Zambia welcomed two new members to the team this month—Emma Lwando and Mathews Monde. Emma is the new Community Engagement Officer and Mathews joins us as a Malaria Surveillance Technical Officer. Let’s get to know them a bit better…

What were you doing before you started with PATH?

Emma: Previously I worked as a Communications Expert at Devolution Trust Fund, a parastatal organization that deals with water supply and sanitation. During my time there, I served as point person for all their publication materials, exhibitions, and events like World Water Day and World Toilet Day. I’m looking forward to transferring the skills and knowledge I gained with Devolution Trust Fund to my new role with MACEPA.

Mathews: Before joining PATH, I worked as an Environmental Health Officer for the government where I participated in strengthening health systems in Southern Province. When I began my position, I focused on capacity building and prevention of diseases like malaria, diarrhea, and sanitation-related diseases. I then became the Malaria Focal Point Person for Southern Province and began working with communities on how to prevent malaria and strengthen capacity for community health workers. In 2015, I was given a Master Trainer position to support other provinces including Luapula and Muchinga.

What are you most excited about in your new position?

Emma: It would be amazing to see Zambia record zero cases of malaria and I’m excited to be a part of an organization that is looking forward to that. You can tell the rates of malaria cases and deaths have reduced in Zambia and PATH is a big part of that. Being a part of an organization that wants to do something positive for the country motivates me.

Mathews: After working in malaria elimination with the government, it became clear to me that many initiatives are propelled by MACEPA. I also feel like many of the skills I’ve developed over the course of my career have been because of MACEPA and my work alongside this program. The approach, technology, and science behind malaria elimination has led to great successes in Southern Province, with some villages reporting zero cases. With PATH spearheading much of the science and tools for malaria elimination, I believe we can eliminate malaria in Zambia. I’m excited to be a part of that.

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?

Emma: I have a great passion for movies and I love going to the cinema in my spare time. I also love catching up with friends and telling stories about our lives. I don’t always have a lot of time to see them so when I can, I always enjoy spending time with them.

Mathews: I like spending time with my family. I’m also very passionate about community health work outside of PATH. In my spare time, I help facilitate a group of volunteers passionate about promoting health and well-being in their communities through service and inspiring community voice. Through that I’ve learned we can do more than just prescribe methods but actually engage people in their own health and well-being.

Religious Leaders’ Health Indaba

MACEPA supported Zambia’s first Religious Leaders’ Health Indaba in Lusaka last week. This meeting brought together 18 religious groups from across the country to discuss Zambia’s most urgent health issues. The Minister of Health, Dr. Chitalu Chilufya, was present to address the group, unveil new national strategy documents, and answer questions from participants. Elimination of malaria is the second of the Ministry’s nine legacy goals, so malaria was a prominent topic throughout the two-day program. Dr. Chilufya frequently highlighted the important role of the religious leaders in promoting the use of mosquito nets and acceptance of indoor spraying. With great influence over their congregations, religious leaders have a huge role to play in dispelling myths and promoting healthy behaviors in their communities. This engagement was an important first step towards creating a healthier Zambia.

Photo: PATH/Chelsea Montes de Oca

Photo: PATH/Chelsea Montes de Oca

“To sum up why we are here today, it’s to ask religious leaders to join us in a coalition to deliver high-impact public health messages to promote wellness and prevent disease. The ability to influence behavior change in your
community lies with you.”– Dr. Chitalu Chilufya, Minister of Health

Community engagement

Photo: PATH/Kafula Silumbe

Photo: PATH/Kafula Silumbe

MACEPA staff in Zambia, in partnership with the Ministry of Health, have been engaging communities in mass drug administration (MDA) and indoor residual spraying. This season’s MDA campaign will reach 12 districts. Above are photos of community health workers in Gwembe District administering DHAp, the MDA medicine, to households during the first round in Southern Province.

Village meetings also took place in Sesheke District, Western Province. The meetings were held at local health facilities and included influential community members such as Indunas (traditional leaders), school teachers, pastors, area councilors, and neighborhood health committee members. Each meeting hosted an average of 150 community members, most engaged and curious on how the country plans to eliminate malaria by 2021.

Photo: PATH/Chilumba Sikombe

Photo: PATH/Chilumba Sikombe

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