By Eric Liswaniso, Programs Manager, Malaria Partners Zambia and Wongani Zulu, Malaria Surveillance Specialist, World Vision Zambia
“Eric, did you know this place is called London?” remarked Kelvin, the District Surveillance Officer for Lavushimanda district, to my astonishment. We all had a laugh about it. This place couldn’t be further from London in every sense.
The time was past 8pm and the only light we had was coming from the headlamps of our Toyota Landcruiser which was now stuck in the mud. We were stuck in London!
Muwele Rural Health Center (RHC) has about 23 community health workers (CHWs). Of the 23, 4 are what we call data CHWs. These are responsible for recording data from the registers of all the 23 into the national District Health Information System (DHIS2) database using the smart phones we provide them with. It is necessary to review malaria data for accuracy from time to time, for evidence-based decision making.
Muwele RHC was one of 10 facilities receiving Mentorship and Technical Supportive Supervision (MTSS) in Lavushimanda district in January. Ministry of Health experts together with project staff and Rotarians from the Rotary Club of Kasama and Rotaract Club of Ndola visited all 10 facilities in Lavushimanda.
During MTSS the data is reviewed with the CHWs themselves and errors identified and corrected immediately. The idea is to help them appreciate the value of accurate data for decision making and the important role they play in this process. The team of experts also provides one-on-one technical support to the CHWs to help them improve where weaknesses in data management are identified.
The exercise is important because it cleans up data while improving CHW performance. At the same time, the process helps participating Rotarians to appreciate other facets of the fight to end malaria.
Oh, and back to London, its murky mud could not hold us back. Despite our exhaustion from reviewing 12 months of malaria data reported by each of the 23 CHWs at Muwele RHC, we summoned our collective mental faculties and physical strength to wedge branches under the tires of the vehicle. After about an hour, we managed to get it unstuck. And two hours later, we were back at base at a cultural village in Chiunda Ponde, home to the famous Shoebill Stork –story for another day.
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